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Compliance checks complete in Nobles County

WORTHINGTON -- During a series of recent checks on all licensed alcohol retailers, the Nobles County Sheriff's Office found an 86 percent compliance when it came to establishments selling to underage drinking.

The compliance checks, which are funded by a grant from the Minnesota Institute of Public Health through the Enforcing Underage Drinking Laws Program of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, are a tool used to identify bars and liquor stores that sell alcohol to individuals younger than 21.

During the check, a law enforcement officer works with someone who is not of legal age -- usually someone 18 to 20 years old -- who attempts to purchase alcohol from a licensed outlet.

If the server asks for ID, the person shows their real identification that clearly states the buyer is underage.

If the server asks for identification and refuses the sale, the outlet passes the compliance check.

If the server completes the sale, the outlet has illegally sold alcohol and fails the check.

"Four out of the 14 that we checked failed," said Nobles County Det. Lonnie Roloff. "We check them each twice."

The servers who did not pass the compliance check will be charged with a gross misdemeanor, Roloff said.

If the establishment fails two checks in a year, the owners may also face civil penalties.

At several bars that failed, the servers did ask for ID, which was then provided by the underage youth.

Then the server sold them an alcoholic beverage anyway.

"They assume that if they ask for ID, there aren't people out there cocky enough to not give them one," Roloff explained.

To help retailers abide by the laws governing the sale of alcohol, the Nobles County Sheriff's Office will be providing ID training for all establishments in the county free of charge.

The training is for owners, managers, bartenders and staff to help them understand the laws for selling alcohol and for spotting fake IDs.

"We encourage all establishments to send the employees that sell alcohol to these trainings," Roloff said.

There are two sessions, both on June 9 at Prairie Justice Center. The first Is at 10 a.m., the second at 7 p.m. During the sessions, attendees will go over different types of IDs, get some information on how to spot fakes and learn where they can get resources such as books showing every type of ID in the U.S.

"We will continue to conduct these checks at least twice every year to Ensure the establishments in the county refuse to sell alcohol to underage youths," Roloff stated. "We would like to have 100 percent of the establishments passing the checks."