Eight businesses failed alcohol compliance checks conducted last week by the Stillwater Police Department.
That’s two to three times more failures than the city generally sees when the compliance checks are conducted, according to Stillwater Police Sgt. Jeff Stender. The checks were conducted on Aug. 8.
“It’s highly disappointing,” Stender said. “What it tells me is there are a lot of servers in town that aren’t doing their job—and underage access to alcohol is terribly easy.”
Police conducted the biannual alcohol compliance checks on about 46 licensed liquor sellers in the city, Stender said. Those that failed include: The Lowell Inn, Grand Pizza, the American Legion, Chilkoot Café, Mara-Mi, Osaka, Stillwater Country Club and Oak Glenn Golf Course.
“There is no entrapment here,” Stender said. “The fact of the matter is, if the server does their job, they pass.”
If they don’t, it means a gross misdemeanor citation for sale of alcohol to a minor, and a civil penalty of $500 fine or suspension of a liquor holder’s license.
In this case, all eight establishments received a fine.
The most recent compliance checks were conducted using young men ages 19 and 20 years old, Stender said. These men were carrying their own Minnesota driver’s licenses that say they are under 21 years old and instructed to ask for a Bud Light in a bottle or on tap.
“They are instructed to ask for something basic,” Stender said. “We’re not playing them off like they are some sort of beer connoisseur.”
If the men are asked to show their identification, they do, Stender said. If they are asked how old they are, they are instructed to tell the server their age.
“There’s no game-playing here. There’s no arguing,” Stender said. “All we’re doing is asking that servers make a reasonable attempt to establish that the person they are serving is of age to be drinking.”
The city, county and state offer free alcohol training to all employees of establishments that serve alcohol and sell tobacco, Stender said. There have been several trainings in town this summer.
“There is no excuse for this,” Stender said. “If employees look at a license and can’t ascertain that the person they are serving is not at least 21 years old, I don’t know what’s going on. The license says under 21 years old right on it. It’s not that difficult.”