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Woodbury police to conduct alcohol compliance checks

The Woodbury Public Safety Department has been awarded a grant to conduct alcohol compliance checks on all licensed retailers. A compliance check is a tool to identify alcohol establishments that sell to underage youth.

In a compliance check, a law enforcement officer works with an underage youth who attempts to purchase alcohol from a bar, restaurant, liquor store, grocery store or other licensed outlet. If the clerk/server asks for identification and refuses the sale, the outlet passes the compliance check. If the clerk/server completes the sale, the outlet has illegally sold alcohol and fails the check.

The grant, provided by Invitation Health Institute, will reimburse the city $30 for each compliance check, up to $3,660.

"The purpose of conducting these checks is to stop youth access to alcohol," said Wendy Simone, investigative technician. "Juveniles who attempt to purchase alcohol and the establishments who sell or serve it to minors will be cited. The program encourages diligence in proper identification policies as an empowerment to the business owners and staff."

In the next few months, officers will conduct the first round of compliance checks. A second round of checks will be conducted in 2013.

Any seller caught selling to an underage buyer will be referred to the City Attorney's Office for criminal prosecution. In addition, the owner of the alcohol license will face civil prosecution.

Along with the issuance of an alcohol license comes the responsibility to ensure that all sales are made legally and responsibly. Law enforcement officials said they are committed to working with retailers to help them abide by the law. The department offers responsible beverage service training twice annually. As per the requirements to retain a current license, businesses are required to attend one training annually.

"When a business fails a compliance check, the employee who sold the alcohol is charged with a gross misdemeanor," Simone said. "Police have the option of issuing a warning or $500 citation to the offending business. They usually choose the latter."

Invitation Health Institute has provided the alcohol compliance check funding through the Enforcing Underage Drinking Laws Program of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.