Statistics slip in county alcohol compliance check |

Statistics slip in county alcohol compliance check

Reid Williams

SUMMIT COUNTY – Despite a two-year-old driver’s license design that differentiates owners who are under age 21, nearly a third of establishments tested in a countywide alcohol compliance check last week failed and sold drinks to an under-age person.

The Summit Prevention Alliance (SPA), with the help of each of the county’s law enforcement agencies, conducted a compliance check June 20. Prevention coordinator Beverly Gmerek sent men and women younger than 21 with valid driver’s licenses, into 59 bars, restaurants and liquor stores. Seventeen of the businesses, or 29 percent, sold to the test individuals.

“People just weren’t paying attention,” Gmerek said. “Most of the IDs were new ones, and they either didn’t ask for it, or just weren’t looking. One guy just stared at it the whole time he was pouring the draft.”

SPA does not release the names of the businesses that fail the check, in an effort to promote participation in the prevention project.

In May 2000, the Colorado Department of Motor Vehicles redesigned driver’s licenses for people under age 21. The new design resembles a ski pass – a vertical orientation and photograph – and is marked in bold, red letters with “Under 21.”

The compliance check was the second this year. A check in March found that nine of 49 businesses sold to an under-age person. In the March check, police accompanying the testing group issued warnings. The first compliance check in May 2001 found that 41 percent of businesses sold alcohol in violation of liquor codes.

In the check completed June 21, officers issued citations to the 17 clerks who sold. Gmerek said each town handles its criminal process a little differently and the citations would be handled in the businesses’ jurisdiction.

“The good news is that 42 establishments did the right thing,” Gmerek said. “But if you’re looking at a birthdate that’s 1983 or 1984, it should be a no-brainer – they’re underage.”

Gmerek said another positive aspect of the compliance check was there were only two repeat offenders from the March check. She said another check could be coming soon with the Fourth of July holiday around the corner.

SPA organizes TIPS and Bar Code training for alcohol servers and sellers.

The training covers personal and commercial liability as set out by liquor codes, as well as service tips for handling underage and intoxicated customers.

For information about the training, contact Gmerek at (970) 668-2077.

Reid Williams can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 237 or

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