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County: Alcohol Compliance Rates Improving

Beer and wine store (file photo)Montgomery County officials weren’t happy about alcohol compliance rates last fiscal year. But the county says the numbers for the second half of 2013 showed a nearly 10 percent improvement.

The Montgomery County Department of Liquor Control reported 81 percent of businesses tested with a compliance check in the second half of 2013 correctly refused to sell alcohol to people under 21. That’s up from a 72 percent compliance rate in fiscal year 2013, when a random check of 404 restaurants turned up 113 where servers sold alcohol to minors, either after not checking for ID or seeing an under-21 ID and serving alcohol anyway.

The program, which started about six years ago, typically results in a yearly compliance rate around 80 percent.

“We are happy to see that business owners are getting the message and are training their employees to thoroughly check identification before selling alcohol to these young people,” DLC Chief of Licensure, Regulation and Education Kathie Durbin said in a prepared release.

Non-compliance during the check does carry some significant penalties. The first offense means a $1,000 fine for the business and a mandatory review hearing before the county’s Board of License Commissioners.

According to the most recent available records, Mia’s Pizzas in Woodmont Triangle and World Market on Wisconsin Avenue both paid $1,000 fines in October for selling alcohol to a minor.

Liquor Control and Police train and send out volunteers, usually high school students, to try to buy alcohol with specific instructions: no facial hair, provocative clothing or sunglasses. The only things the volunteers are allowed to carry are a cell phone, buy money provided by Liquor Control and a valid ID.

DLC has finished about half of its planned 400 compliance checks for FY 2014, with 169 out of 210 sellers refusing alcohol to the teens requesting it.


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