Alcohol-sales compliance checks result in charges across Grand County
December 7, 2007
The illegal sale of alcohol to minors resulted in several charges being filed after compliance checks conducted by Grand County law enforcement agencies last Saturday night, Dec. 1.Eight court summonses were issued as a result of the checks conducted at bars, restaurants and liquor stores across Grand County. The charges are for selling or procuring alcohol for minors.Under Colorado law, the selling of an alcoholic beverage to an underage person is a Class II misdemeanor. It is punishable by up to a $1,000 fine and/or 12 months imprisonment.The Fraser-Winter Park Police Department, Granby Police Department, Kremmling Police Department and the Grand County Sheriffs Office participated in the compliance checks Saturday. Our objective was to check every business in the county that served alcohol or did package sales, said Granby Police Chief Bill Housley. We wanted to see what kind of procedures each business uses to ensure that alcohol is not served or sold to the underaged.In Kremmling, six businesses underwent the compliance checks with three summonses being issue. The summonses were given to employees of the Kremmling Merchantile, the Quarter Circle Saloon and OAces Liquor. In the towns of Winter Park and Fraser, a total of 26 establishments were checked. During those compliance checks, three summonses were issued. They were given to employees of Safeway, Stop & Save in Winter Park and Docs Road House at the Winter Park Ski Resort.Two summonses were issued in Granby. One was issued to a City Market employee who sold alcoholic beverages to an underage person. The other summons was given to an individual who agreed to go into a liquor store and purchase alcoholic beverages for an underage person waiting outside in a parking area.The Sheriffs Office conducted the compliance checks in other areas of the county, including the town of Grand Lake, but did not find any violations that required the issuing of summons. While the employees who were caught selling alcohol in Saturdays compliance checks will now face court charges, the businesses where they work were not charged during the compliance checks. However, they may also face consequences. The employees of those businesses who sold have been criminally charged, Housley said. The businesses where the sales took place have also been recorded. That could be something thats considered when their liquor licenses come up for renewal. As in the past, the county-wide compliance checks were conducted with the cooperation of Grand Futures Prevention Coalition, a nonprofit organization that deals with youth substance abuse issues in Grand, Moffat and Routt counties. To conduct the compliance checks, Grand Futures provided the teenage volunteers who went into the businesses to attempt to purchase or be served alcohol. These teenagers worked as a team with law enforcement officers who were in plain clothes. The checks were carefully conducted, Housley said. The underage person would go into the business and just ask to be served. If they were denied, they just walked out. They did not beg to be served. It was all very straightforward.While the underage person attempted to purchase, an officer was nearby observing. If the sale took place, the officer would note who the seller was and follow up on it later, Housley said. He would not charge the seller right away.Housley explained that if the employee of the business asked the underage person for his or her date of birth or age, the teenager gave accurate information.They would give their real date of birth or age, he said. It was not a guessing game, and no fake IDs were used. It was completely straightforward and honest. No lying was used. When they asked, they got the accurate information.Housley denied the compliance checks were a sting operation by local law enforcement agencies.Our intent was not to make arrests, he said. The real purpose is to ensure compliance and to see if local businesses are complying with the law or not.Local businesses can obtain training for their employees on proper procedures for determining and handling underage persons through the TIPS program offered by the Grand Futures office in Granby.I encourage businesses to contact Grand Futures about TIPS, Housley said. They can get valuable training for their employees on their responsibilities about selling alcohol and how to determine the legal age of customers. Saturdays compliance checks were just the latest ones conducted by local law enforcement agencies. Housley said future checks will be done periodically.Funding for the 2007 compliance checks in Grand County has been awarded to all of the local law enforcement agencies from the state of Colorado. The money is in the form of a grant from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention through the Colorado Department of Revenues Liquor Enforcement Division.