ABC to crack down

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 21, 2003

Five Pike County establishments busted for selling to minors

Underage drinkers beware: the long arm of the law is looking into your drinking habits.

The Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board announced some victories in the war against illegal consumption of alcohol last week.

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Thanks to new grant money from the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, the ABC has begun a crackdown on businesses that sell alcoholic beverages to minors. The new funds allow ABC agents to spend more time on the streets and could result in some careless clerks spending more time behind bars.

As a result of the three month program, ABC agents conducted 334 compliance checks of licensed locations statewide to ensure that alcoholic beverages are not sold to minors. According to Captain Phillip Calvert of ABC's enforcement division, such checks involve recruitment of underage people to attempt to purchase alcohol.

"Using guidelines from Alabama Supreme Court, we employ underage kids to work with us and they go in and try to buy alcoholic beverages. We look for whether the clerk checks for an ID and they should turn them down," he said.

Of those compliance checks, 31 were in Pike County, said Calvert. Five locations actually sold alcohol to minors.

"Our agents would have made contact with clerk or bartender and actually made an arrest," Calvert said. "We write a non-traffic citation, which means we don't take them to jail or anything, but they are given a court date."

Calvert said the ABC agents made other inquiries as well.

"We did four inspections where we ensure that the license is current and posted. If it's an on-premise place like a lounge or restaurant, we make sure no kids are present and we'll look at the inventory to make sure it's all legal."

Six administrative violations were tabulated against licensees in Pike County.

"If a clerk sells to a minor, the clerk is charged criminally but an administrative charge is also levied against the store," Calvert said.

Statewide, ABC made 63 arrests for the sale of alcoholic beverages to a minor, 59 arrests for Minor in Possession of Alcoholic Beverages and filed 129 administrative charges against licensees for violations of state laws and regulations.

In addition, ABC made 36 arrests for other offenses related to violations involving alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, drug and drug paraphernalia possession, distribution of controlled substances, DUI, escape, public intoxication, resisting arrest, false identification possession and disorderly conduct.

The ABC nabbed $10,673.25 worth of property as well. Agents seized 398 bottles/cans of beer, 15.5 gallons of draft beer, 8 gallons of moonshine whiskey, 13.85 liters of whiskey and wine, 5 fake IDs, 25 grams of marijuana, 203 dosage units of Ecstasy, 22 grams of methamphetamine, along with quantities of crack, cocaine, drug paraphernalia and cigarettes.

"It's really a good program," said Calvert. "This is all from extra hours that we worked and it's funded by the grant. We do this stuff on a daily basis too, so the grant has allowed us to accomplish extra over what we normally do."

Calvert said the program would continue and he hoped to be sending out further notices about the successes of the ABC's work.

Stephen Stetson can be reached at stephen.stetson