The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Opinion

July 23, 2013

Liquor-selling employees need to know, follow laws

Underage drinking continues to be an issue in our society, but periodic checks done by Garfield County Sheriff’s Office and PreventionWorkz are helping to cut access to alcohol.

One such check was done Friday at 19 establishments in the county.

Fourteen of the establishments — restaurants, taverns, bars, convenience stores and grocery stores — checked refused to sell to the underage volunteers recruited for the effort. Five were found in violation and were issued citations. Selling or furnishing beer to a minor is a misdemeanor, with a punishment of a $500 fine and up to one year in the county jail for the first offense.

During a similar operation in May, 20 of 23 establishments followed the law and refused sales to the underage volunteers.

It’s good to see the percentages up. It would be even better to see 100 compliance with the law.

We know people always are going to try to bend the rules or circumvent them. But, that’s no reason to not try and follow the law.

Statistics bear out how important this effort is. According to the Centers for Disease Control:

• 22 percent of drivers ages 15 to 20 who were involved in fatal vehicle crashes in 2010 were drinking.

• 24 percent of teens reported in 2011 that, within the previous month, they had ridden with a driver who had been drinking alcohol, and 8 percent reported having driven after drinking alcohol within the same one-month period.

• Half of teen deaths from motor vehicle crashes occurred between 3 p.m. and midnight, and 55 percent occurred on Friday, Saturday or Sunday.

PreventionWorkz and the state ABLE Commission have another program, funded by Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, that can help boost the compliance rate. They offer free responsible beverage sales and service training, which can be scheduled by calling PreventionWorkz at 234-1046.

We encourage businesses to make sure their employees know the law and follow it. Safety is too important.

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