Decoy Operation Nabs Businesses Selling Alcohol to Minors

COMPLIANCE CHECKS IN MULTNOMAH COUNTY SHOW SPIKE IN ILLEGAL SALES RATE

(Portland, Oregon)  Some 28% of the selected Multnomah County stores, bars and restaurants involved in Friday’s decoy operation sold alcoholic beverages to minors – the highest rate yet over the past year.

Friday’s illegal sales rate is a 3% increase from February’s compliance checks carried out by Oregon Partnership, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, and Multnomah County law enforcement agencies.

Of the 71 establishments visited Friday, April 18th, 20 sold alcohol to minors, which equates to 28%.  That compares to an illegal sales rate of 25% recorded in February’s decoy operation and 19.7% recorded in the decoy operation in June of 2007 and 18% in March of 2007.

“This is a trend that is troubling,” said Pete Schulberg, Communications Director of Oregon Partnership.  “Employers and their employees need to get the message that selling alcohol to people under 21 is illegal and dangerous and there are definite repercussions for those who make the sales.”

Those who sell alcohol to minors are charged with a misdemeanor and face the possibility of jail time and/or fines.  In addition, bartenders and business owners face additional penalties levied against their permits and licenses by the OLCC.

For example, someone with a liquor license could face a fine of $1,650 or a ten-day suspension for a first offense.

The randomly selected establishments were located in N.E. Portland, Gresham, Fairview and Troutdale. 

“We plan on conducting these compliance checks about every two months,” said Pam Erickson of Oregon Partnership, a non-profit alcohol and drug prevention organization that spearheaded the missions under a grant from the Oregon Department of Human Services.

This month’s decoy operation involved police officers from Portland, The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, Gresham, and Fairview as well as  OLCC inspectors and volunteer decoys.

Each team included two unmarked vehicles, police officers, OLCC inspectors and decoys.  The underage decoys attempted to purchase alcoholic beverages as part of the operation.

Alcohol use is associated with the leading causes of death of young people.  According to the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, underage drinking costs Oregonians $697 million a year in medical costs, pain and suffering and work loss costs.

Youth who start drinking before the age of fifteen are four times as likely to become addicted as adults compared to those who wait until the age of twenty one.

Oregon Partnership is urging licensed businesses to become members of the Responsible Vendor Program, which trains and educators employees about the law and techniques for avoiding alcohol sales to minors. The free program has found that those who participate are less likely to sell alcohol to minors.

About Oregon Partnership:
Oregon Partnership is a statewide nonprofit that has worked to promote healthy kids and communities for well over a decade by raising awareness about drug and alcohol issues, providing drug prevention education in classrooms, and 24-hour crisis lines for people needing help. To learn more, visit www.orpartnership.org.

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