Nine liquor stores received citations Thursday night for failing to check the ID of an underage man attempting to purchase alcohol. The busts occurred during compliance checks performed by Steamboat Springs police officers.
"This is very concerning for us," police Capt. Joel Rae said. "It concerns us that a person under 21 can buy alcohol here."
During a two-hour period, a 20-year-old man working with the police department on the compliance checks purchased alcohol at nine of the 11 liquor stores he was sent to.
The liquor stores that failed to ask the 20-year-old to show identification were Arctic Liquors, On The Way Market, 7-Eleven, Go-fer Foods, Ski Haus Liquors, Central Park Liquor, Steamboat Discount Liquors, Kum & Go and the Wine Rack.
The two stores that asked to see identification were Rocky Mountain Wine and Liquor Co. and Southside Liquors.
Rae said the undercover man was monitored by police officers during the checks, and the stores received citations after the purchases were made.
Rae said it was alarming that 81 percent of the liquor stores failed to ask for identification. Because of the poor results from the compliance checks, Rae said the police department plans to conduct them monthly at liquor stores, bars and restaurants.
"We're going to stay on top of this to make sure that these businesses are being compliant, or they risk losing their liquor license," he said.
The last time the police department conducted compliance checks was four or five months ago, when they checked seven bars and restaurants, Rae said. During those checks, only two of the seven businesses failed to ask for identification.
Rae said the clerks who sold alcohol to the minor and the liquor-license holders were cited for the violations. In some cases, there were multiple holders of a single liquor license, so all of holders were cited.
Serving alcohol to minors is a Class 2 misdemeanor, which has a penalty of as much as 12 months in jail and as much as $1,000 in fines. The businesses also could have their liquor licenses suspended or revoked after repeat offenses.
Three of the businesses cited Thursday -- Go-fer Foods, Arctic Liquors and Ski Haus Liquors -- are repeat offenders, Rae said.
Rae hopes word will travel fast in the community that businesses that sell alcohol to minors won't be tolerated.
"We just want people to comply with state laws," he said.
Arctic Liquors manager Leif Erickson said he is happy that police officers are conducting the compliance checks and that his store had not had any problems with selling alcohol to minors since the store came under new ownership in June.
"We don't condone serving alcohol to minors, and we do train our employees to card people," he said. "We reiterate the fact 'Check IDs, check IDs, check IDs.' It just didn't happen last night."
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