Just in time for the new year, the Montgomery County Department of Liquor Control (DLC) has released a report showing a major increase in illegal sales of alcoholic beverages to their underage sales compliance testers.
According to the report, establishments illegally sold alcoholic beverage products to county enforcement team members 20.62% of the time in 2008. The noncompliance rate grew to 29.56% in 2009, a nearly 50% year-to-year increase.
From the report:
Each Under 21 Compliance Check team consists of at least one police officer, an Alcohol Inspector from the Department of Liquor Control and an underage volunteer or “UV”. UV’s are checked to ensure the only belongings on their person at the time of an attempted purchase is their own valid, underage ID, a cell phone for safety purposes and buy money provided by the Liquor Inspector. No age enhancements such as facial hair, provocative clothing, makeup or sun glasses are allowed at any time. UVs must interact directly with the seller/server and are not permitted engage in distracting behaviors such as talking on the phone. UVs take possession of the alcohol sold to them before an establishment is charged. UV’s attend an extensive training that includes detailed protocol as well as role playing.It's not clear whose safety is being ensured by the unrealistic test protocol, particularly since underage males commonly use the "don't shave for a day" tactic to buy alcohol.
All compliance checks follow this consistent procedure to ensure fairness and safety.
Meanwhile, the DLC 2009 Annual Report released earlier this month states:
While a number of citizens chose to resume the legal sale of alcohol through licensed private sellers, 18 states and a several local jurisdictions opted for a different course — controlled distribution, where economic incentives for maximum sales were replaced with policies supporting moderate consumption. Seven decades later, those jurisdictions continue to use the control model, and such durability suggests that the wisdom of this method is sound.The 30% failure rate means that an underage person who has no "age enhancements" can usually obtain alcoholic beverages by going to, at most, four stores. It can also be easily calculated that, on the average, an underage buyer would need to go to only two stores in an evening to purchase alcoholic products. And an underage buyer with "age enhancements" (such as not shaving for a day or two) would, in all likelihood, be able to make a purchase on the first attempt.
Montgomery County is proud to be one of those control jurisdictions and believes that it has successfully achieved the delicate balance of—
■ providing high-quality products and service to customers;
■ improving the overall safety of communities through
education, regulation, and enforcement; and
■ generating revenue for transfer to the General Fund to
pay for important resident services.
The department continues to provide new and exciting products while offering comprehensive training to license holders, staff, and others involved in the industry and working within communities to address any special concerns.
Just something for parents to think about this evening when their teens and 20 year-olds are out tonight - or any night.
Note: Photo above is one of the hundreds of alcoholic beverage retailers in Montgomery County that failed a compliance check during FY 2008-2009. Montgomery County is the only county in the nation that runs its own alcoholic beverage wholesale operation. All alcoholic beverages sold in Montgomery County must be supplied through the Montgomery County government wholesale operation.
Update (01/06/10): The Gazette covers the story here.