Alcohol stings show 22 percent failure rate

Alcohol stings show 22 percent failure rate Twenty-one businesses in three cities failed South Dakota's alcohol sting operation in its first week, state Secretary of Commerce and Regulation David Volk said July 6.

They were among the 93 checked as part of the state's Compliance Plus program to curb underage purchase of alcohol.

"That means more than 22 percent of the businesses checked were still selling liquor to minors, which quite frankly is very disappointing given the publicity on new laws, new driver licenses and the sting operation itself," said Volk.

The three cities checked in the last week were Mitchell, Huron and Watertown. In Mitchell, 33 businesses were checked, and 11 failed. Of the 11, eight businesses failed to even ask for the buyer's identification and three requested identification but sold to the underage buyer anyway.

In Huron 28 businesses were checked and four failed. Of the four, one failed to ask for identification, while three checked but still sold to the underage buyer. In Watertown 32 businesses were checked and six failed. Of the six, two failed to ask for proof of age, while four checked but sold to the underage buyer.

Volk said the state plans to conduct more than 2,000 random checks throughout South Dakota during the next year and will return to those businesses who fail the first check.

"This is too critical of an issue to not vigorously enforce our laws and check for compliance," said Volk. "The tragic statistics, involving teen death due to traffic accidents, especially when they have been drinking, compels us to take this strong position."

The stings are part of Gov. Bill Janklow's effort to combat underage drinking. The state has contracted with Compliance Plus, a private company, to conduct the stings. Clerks who pass the test receive a card on the spot congratulating them. Those who fail the sting are given a card informing them of that fact.

Names of businesses who fail are turned over to local law enforcement. Persons convicted of supplying or selling alcoholic beverages to those under the legal age of 21 are subject to a misdemeanor charge.

Clerks who sell to underaged youth are subject to an additional penalty: the loss of driver's license for a minimum of 30 days if convicted of a first offense. Subsequent offenses are subject to a minimum 60-day loss of driver's license. Youth attempting to purchase are subject to the same driver's license suspension penalties as the clerks.

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