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Illegal alcohol sales increase in Montgomery County

Twenty-eight percent of the checked establishments gave alcohol to the teens during Montgomery County\'s compliance check (WTOP File)

WASHINGTON – Every year, young people under the age of 21 visit liquor stores in the area and try to buy booze — and an annual initiative in Montgomery County is allowing them to do it with police supervision.

On Wednesday, Montgomery County’s Department of Liquor Control released the results of its 2013 alcohol compliance check program, which sends underage people into stores to see if staffers check their identification when they try to purchase alcohol.

This year, the check resulted in a slight increase in illegal sales from the 2012 report. In 2013, 72 percent of establishments that sell alcohol and were checked turned away youth under the age of 21. In 2012, 75 percent of the establishments that were checked turned away those under 21.

Through the year, a team of police and liquor control representatives check at least 400 of the approximately 1,000 licensed establishments in the county.

“More work needs to be done. Everyone who is in the business of selling or dispensing alcohol is responsible for making sure that they are not serving people under the age of 21,” Police Chief Thomas Manger said in a news release. “We will be checking.”

During the checks, the underage participants aren’t allowed to try to appear older and they use their real identification indicating they are less than 21 years old.

“Raising compliance rates is our priority,” DLC Division Chief Kathie Durbin said in a release. “Businesses should take advantage of the increased education and outreach efforts supported by DLC and make sure their staff is well trained before they sell or serve alcohol.”

This comes on the heels of a recent report finding underage college students in Maryland are more likely to drink than in other parts of the country.

The compliance program for 2014 is already underway.

WTOP’s Kate Ryan contributed to this report. Follow @KateRyanWTOP and @WTOP on Twitter.

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