MERIDIAN - Idaho State Police Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC), in cooperation with the Emmett, Nampa and Caldwell Police Departments, conducted alcohol age compliance checks on Friday and Saturday nights on 93 businesses licensed to sell alcoholic beverages in Canyon, Owyhee, Payette and Gem counties.
Working with plainclothes and uniformed officers, underage youths entered these businesses and attempted to illegally purchase alcoholic beverages. Eighty-three businesses refused to sell to our underage buyers. The efforts of these responsible businesses and their employees are commended.
Regrettably, 10, or 10.75%, of the businesses checked failed to comply with the law and sold to a minor under the age of 21. Misdemeanor citations were issued in these cases and they have been referred to the appropriate prosecuting attorney's office.
Additionally, the compliance operation included underage youth requesting an adult to purchase alcohol for them. Five of 12 adults, or 41%, that were asked to purchase alcohol for an underage buyer made the purchase. These adults were issued misdemeanor citations for providing alcohol to a minor.
"Underage drinking is illegal and can have dangerous and life threatening consequences," said Idaho State Police Lt. Russ Wheatley. "As we head into spring we want events such as prom and graduation to be happy celebrations and not marked by the tragedy that too often comes from underage drinking. Our goal with compliance checks is to educate youth, as well as adults, on the dangers of underage drinking and the laws in place to prevent it."
Detectives report that during the operation one adult male even took money out of his own wallet to purchase beer for an underage female and another adult insisted on purchasing a particular type of beer for the minor because it had greater alcohol content.
Illegal alcohol use by underage persons contributes to crime, car crashes, injuries, and deaths. Law enforcement finds that alcohol also has a role in many of the more frequent minor crimes and nuisances that degrade the quality of life in our communities. Many noise complaints, vandalism, littering, and similar nuisances involve young people who have been drinking.
Penalties for a person who sells or furnishes alcohol to underage youth pursuant to Idaho Code section 23-603 include fines between $500 and $1,000 plus up to one year in jail. The maximum penalties for licensed establishments that sell alcohol to minors are as follows:
1st offense within three years - 10 day license suspension or $1,000.00 fine;
2nd offense within three years - 30 day license suspension or 15 day suspension and $1,500.00 fine;
3rd offense within three years - 180 day license suspension.
The two day operation also included arrests and citations for DUI, petty theft, driving with an invalid driver's license, possession of marijuana, open container of alcohol in a vehicle and two outstanding arrest warrants. Detectives also witnessed a hit and run crash.
Idaho State Police Alcohol Beverage Control provides free training to employees on Idaho's alcohol laws including how to recognize fake IDs. For more information on dates and locations for upcoming training sessions, to request one in your area, or for laws pertaining to the sale of alcohol, please visit our website at www.isp.idaho.gov/abc.