When businesses fail to check IDs, alcohol can get into the hands of minors, creating potentially deadly situations.
After State Question 792 went into effect Oct. 1, 2018, it became a requirement that any person who is involved in the sale of alcoholic beverages, including servers and cashiers, have an ABLE Employee License.
“That is kind of a big thing we’ve seen lately is not everyone had those in order and you’re supposed to have those to even sell or distribute alcohol,” said Wichita Mountains Prevention Network RPC Director Jayci Enerson.
The WMPN partners with local law enforcement to ensure that businesses are in compliance with alcohol laws and, especially with new legislation in effect, it is important that those in the industry receive refreshers, said WMPN prevention specialist Chelsey Stevenson.
On Thursday, July 18 the WMPN hosted one of many free Responsible Beverage Service and Sales Trainings in Ardmore. Stevenson said people came out in large numbers after SQ792 initially went into effect, but over time participation has reduced.
During the two hour training, individuals learn the federal and local alcohol laws, as well as ways to assess intoxication, when to deny sales, how to read IDs and the consequences of selling to minors. With the ultimate goal being to reduce underage sales and over serving, Stevenson said.
“Alcohol is a serious problem and youth are getting their hands on it,” Stevenson told the class. “If you love them, if they’re your family, then you should definitely be cutting them off.”
According to the 2016 Oklahoma Prevention Needs Assessment, 65% of Oklahoma 12th graders reported drinking alcohol at some point within their lifetime. Serious legal ramifications have occasionally resulted from instances where businesses have sold to minors and those individuals have died or become injured, Stevenson said.
“People don’t check IDs and that’s the main thing they can do to prevent themselves from getting in trouble,” Enerson said.
If a business is caught selling to a minor, the first offense is considered a misdemeanor and the second offense is a felony.
Alcohol compliance checks were administered at 15 businesses in Durant in April 2019, where four businesses were caught selling to minors, Stevenson said. Of those four businesses, three had not obtained their ABLE Employee License and one business did not have a liquor license for their establishment.
Enerson said the WMPN is unaware if Durant’s alcohol compliance rates have improved since April. “We’re hoping that it’s improving, but we haven’t reached out to the police departments yet to get those scheduled.”
Marshall County also had low compliance rates as of last year, Enerson said. But Ardmore’s compliance rates are better than ever.
As of June 2019, Ardmore was at a 100% compliance rate, said community development director Jessica Scott. This number is a dramatic jump from the mere 10% of city businesses that were in compliance with city ordinances last December.
“Everyone in the alcohol industry has been great and they all want to comply,” Scott said.
Scott said more checks will have to be conducted in August after the renewal process for liquor licenses begins to ensure that establishments still have the proper training and documentation.
The next Responsible Beverage Service and Sales training will be held at 10:30 a.m. July 25 at the Pontotoc County Health Department in Ada. For more information on future trainings, individuals can visit the WMPN- Region 10 Prevention Coordinator Facebook page or contact Chelsey Stevenson at Cstevenson@wmpn.org.