Half of stores visited by an underage operative on March 24 sold them alcohol.
“Oh, 50% is high,” Monongalia County Sheriff Perry Palmer said. “When we were doing it consistently … you might get one a week maybe. Maybe.”
However, because of COVID-19 the sheriff’s department hasn’t done an alcohol sales compliance check in a year, Palmer said.
“But it’s time to start back up,” he said. The underage operative, who is at least 18 but younger than 21, and the deputies involved are vaccinated and follow other COVID safety measures, such as masks.
“What we want to do is have the clerk ask them for their ID,” Palmer said. “Look at their ID. That’s the law. If (the clerk) ask (the underage) their DOB they’re going to tell them their regular date of birth. We’re not trying to fool anybody.”
The goal, Palmer said, is to reduce underage consumption by making alcohol less available and thus reduce the resulting number of DUIs and other alcohol-related incidents.
It is a clerk’s responsibility to check an ID but managers and business owners also have a responsibility to make sure employees are properly trained, Palmer said.
“Again, it’s very simple, ask for their ID, they’re going to show you their regular ID,” he said.
A first-time violation costs the clerk $225.25 between the fine and court costs. Some businesses, such as Sheetz, also fire employees who get a citation for selling alcohol to an underage, Palmer said.
“Kroger isn’t very lenient either,” Chief Deputy of Civilian Operations Vance Lipscomb said.
Palmer said businesses that sell to an underage operative multiple times are referred to the West Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Administration, which can issue sanctions or take their license.
The checks, which are funded through a grant by the Governor’s Highway Safety Program, will be weekly going forward. Palmer said the day and time is changed each week.
The businesses that sold on March 24 are:
- Exxon Ashbrooke on Cheat Road
- Smoker Friendly on Venture Drive
- BFS on Venture Drive
- Mid-Atlantic Market
- Smoker Friendly on 857
- BFS on Bakers Ridge Road
The businesses that did not sell are:
- Cottrell’s Country Store
- Circle K on Point Marion Road
- Price Cutter on Venture Drive
- True Convience Store on 857
- BFS on 857
- BFS on Bowers Lane