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Crackdown to begin on alcohol sales

The Douglas County Sheriff's Office has been awarded a grant to conduct alcohol compliance checks on all licensed retailers.

A compliance check is a tool to identify alcohol establishments that sell to underage youth.

In a compliance check, a law enforcement officer works with an underage youth who attempts to purchase alcohol from a bar, restaurant, liquor store, grocery store or other licensed outlet.

If the clerk/server asks for identification and refuses the sale, the outlet passes the compliance check. If the clerk/server completes the sale, the outlet has illegally sold alcohol and fails the check.

Compliance checks, according to the sheriff's office, are a proven tool for reducing youth access to alcohol.

In the next few months, officers will conduct the first round of compliance checks. A second round of checks will be conducted after the first of the year.

Any seller caught selling to an underage buyer will be referred to the Douglas County Attorney's Office for criminal prosecution. In addition, the owner of the alcohol license will face civil prosecution.

Along with the issuance of an alcohol license comes the responsibility to ensure that all sales are made legally and responsibly, according to local law enforcement. Most businesses have a good success rate with this and take this responsibility seriously, the sheriff's office stressed.

Law enforcement officials say they're committed to working with retailers to help them abide by the law. Selling alcohol is a legitimate business that plays a valid role in the community, they added.

Penalties for selling to a minor can include fines and license suspensions, and can potentially lead to license revocation.

A server who sells to someone younger than 21 can be charged with a gross misdemeanor.

The Minnesota Institute of Public Health provided the alcohol compliance check funding through the Enforcing Underage Drinking Laws Program of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.