It's a sad truth that as a society we do a poor job of keeping alcohol out of the hands of minors. Recently, the combination has proven deadly. Nebraska State Patrol troopers ran compliance checks at local bars and restaurants Friday night.
Troopers and undercover minors checked 49 businesses and eight of them sold to the minors. That 16 percent failure rate is about average for a compliance check in the metro, way too high for law enforcement officials.
Sgt. Bob Elliott headed up one of the compliance check teams. His minor was 20 years old and has been testing bartenders and clerks for the past five years. We can't identify him, so we'll call him "James."
Compliance Check Numbers:
49 establishments checked
8 sold to minors
Checked 13 businesses
2 sold "James" alcohol
"Make sure that our community is doing their part, making sure that minors aren't taking part in underage drinking and it makes the community a lot safer."
On his first try, the bar was too crowded. It's probably easier to get a drink from a bartender who is swamped, but the 45-minute wait would take too much time.
Experience tells Sgt. Elliott there are plenty of other places that will sell to James. "I've seen a little bit of everything. I've seen them tired because it is a second job, I've seen laziness. I've had one clerk tell us it wasn't his job, it's only his job to ring up the beer."
It's that attitude that keeps the team going and soon enough they found a bartender who didn't bother to ask James for identification. "They served him so we'll go in now and see him in possession of the alcohol," said Sgt. Elliot.
All that is left now was the citation, the collaborating paperwork and a court date. The potential penalties are stiff, for the bartender up to a $1,000 fine and a year in jail.
For the business, there will be an administrative hearing before the Liquor Control Commission. Potential penalties include suspension, cancellation or revocation of its liquor license.