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Minor offenses = major headaches

Several years ago, my hometown university was named the #1 Party School by Playboy Magazine. Students reveled in the notoriety. Community members and university leaders were appalled.

A lot has changed since then. We got serious about checking IDs in our bars, grocery stores and restaurants. Big burly bouncers and a lot of training have helped to curb the extent of underage drinking. But, like most communities, we're a long way from solving the problem.

This is an important issue that should be taken seriously by all foodservice operators who serve alcoholic beverages. Not only is it illegal to serve to a minor, it's irresponsible and unethical. There's a big price to pay for negligence in this area. Being held liable or having your license revoked is minor compared to other unintended consequences when minors and alcohol are concerned.

Protect Yourself And Your Community:

  • Have a clear policy in place. Make sure all employees are familiar with it, understand the importance of it, and will enforce it. There should be no question about how to deal with a minor who presents a fake ID or attempts to order an alcoholic beverage. For Trade Secrets Members, we've provided a downloadable sample Proof Of Age Policy .
  • Point of purchase signs, buttons and posters help to clearly communicate your policy about serving minors. Check out FACE for many versions you can order. FACE also offers in-person training sessions and seminars around the country. Their web site has dates and details.
  • Anheuser-Busch and its wholesalers offer pocket-sized "We ID" cards that list tips on how to spot fake IDs. For more information visit the Anheuser-Busch Consumer Awareness and Education web site.
  • Anheuser-Busch also publishes the Drivers' License Booklet, featuring photos of valid driver licenses from all 50 states and the Canadian provinces. This is a great reference guide to keep behind the bar or at the front door to help your staff spot under-age drinkers. To order a copy, visit their web site, or contact your Anheuser-Busch distributor.
  • Technology provides added assistance. With one swipe of a driver¹s license, products like The Identifier can verify a person's name, address and age, and tell if an ID is expired or invalid. ABC officers use a portable version that they can take into bars and restaurants. If they catch underage drinker — boom, the restaurateur is in trouble.
  • The Alliance Against Underage Drinking, a 45-member coalition that includes the Texas Restaurant Association recently launched www.2young2drink.com, a Web site that provides information and resources to prevent underage drinking. The site includes information about law enforcement efforts and resources for retailers.

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