Some store clerks just don't get it -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Some store clerks just don't get it

March 23, 2004

Albany- More raids on stores that sell alcohol to underaged customers. This time investigators busted two dozen businesses.

The Albany Dougherty Drug Unit set up the sting last Thursday, Friday and Saturday. They went into 75 businesses, 27 violated the law. Authorities say if the store owners and clerks don't get the message, they will face stiff penalties.

When underage officers went into Dougherty County businesses to buy alcohol, many of the attempts were successful. In fact 35% percent sold alcohol illegally, that's down from 45%. "Sure we're happy about the reduction, but we're not gonna be happy until zero sales go on with this. Too many injuries and fatalities occur because of teenagers engaging in alcohol and getting behind the wheel of a car," says District Attorney Ken Hodges.

In a press conference, officers displayed an entire table full of evidence. Singles and six packs, bought by officers who aren't legally old enough to do so. "We're presenting real driver's licenses which clearly marked under 21 on there in red."

But Hodges says more than half of the clerks checked the ID's and sold the beer anyway. "There asking for the ID because they're trained to ask for the ID, but the vital component in asking for the ID is looking at it and reading it and knowing what a person's age is."

Officials with the Albany-Dougherty Underage Drinking Law Coalition say though they weren't expecting the number of violators to be so high, many of the store owners are trying to get their employees to comply with the law. "Two thirds of the store owners that I've met with and dealt with keep in contact with me want updates, want to know what to do and how to do it. Many of the stores have bought machines to input the birth dates, which is an improvement," said Coalition Coordinator Tracy King. As they dispose of the evidence officers vow to continue to crack down on violators until every store and every clerk gets the message.

The D. A. says he will ask for jail time for those who illegally sold to underage officers for the second and third time. The last person caught selling for the third time received five days in jail.

Selling alcohol to an underage buyer is a misdemeanor. Penalties range up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. Businesses can also have their alcohol licenses revoked.

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