Introduction to Compliance Checks

Underage drinking is a public health problem that creates significant problems for the police. The combination of education and regular enforcement will improve your community’s efforts to prevent problems associated with underage drinking. Underage drinking costs the United States well over $68 billion. It is also a factor in many serious problems such as suicide, traumatic injury, violent crime, property crime, and alcohol poisoning.

It seems logical that if we want to make an impact of the problems related to underage drinking we should find the source; where underage students get alcohol. Underage students have a wide variety of sources to get alcohol, in this post we will discuss the commercial availability. Businesses in your area that hold a liquor license have agreed to follow the laws and ordinances regulating the sale of alcohol. Compliance checks focus on these establishments and determine whether they are following those laws.

Research shows that underage students who have purchased their alcohol, as opposed to getting it for free, consume in larger quantities than those who do not pay. These drinkers often become a source of some of the problems being addressed by your department.

When it comes to finding out who does or doesn’t check ID’s, students know who they are. It doesn’t take long for the buzz about these retailers to circulate. Research has shown those under 21, 33% go to a business where IDs are not checked and 27% go to a business where their friends work and will serve them.

Now on to compliance check operations. They represent a tool your department can use to determine if retailers understand the laws/ordinances related to selling alcohol. You will also find out if they are operating within the scope of those laws.

Your department can gather information showing whether the sales clerk is asking for ID, are they assessing IDs properly, or are they only accepting proper IDs. If your community requires keg registration or large quantity sales, compliance checks will gather information on these as well.

Having solid policies in your communities are the first step, but without proper education and enforcement those policies will likely not be followed. Compliance checks are most effective when they are part of a comprehensive plan that provides retailer and community education on the laws related to alcohol sales. The education should be paired with your departments crime prevention efforts and utilize enforcement tools. Whether your department cites or educates retailers who fail to comply with the alcohol sale laws, compliance checks will help you measure how one segment of your community addresses their duty to sell alcohol responsibly.

In the coming days, I will be providing a step by step compliance check implementation guide.

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