Public safety — Newberg area in line with the 2012 state average of 81 percent compliance

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) confirmed in a press release that out of 37 businesses checked in Yamhill, McMinnville, Sheridan, Willamina, Dayton, Carlton, Newberg and Dundee, 30 passed a check for refusing to sell alcohol to minors.

Yamhill County had a compliance rate of 81 percent, the same as the 2012 statewide average.

Underage drinking is a serious problem across the state, officials said. The OLCC initiates the sting operations at businesses with a liquor license throughout the year. Licensees and their employees have the potential to be held liable for alcohol-related injuries and damages if a minor is served.

Typically not popular with minors attempting to illegally purchase alcohol, tasting rooms were nonetheless tested through the sting operations.

“All businesses with a liquor license are considered for minor decoy operations. There aren’t any that are exempt from the list based on what type of business model they have,” said Christie Scott, public affairs specialist of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, in an email.

Oregon law states that businesses in cities with a population more than 20,000 have an equal chance to be selected for a minor decoy compliance check. A business may also be selected if there is a documented complaint of sales to minors.

“In cities with a population over 20,000 the businesses that are visited are selected randomly by a computer. If that business happens to be a winery, then it will be visited,” Scott said.

During the sting operation, a minor volunteer attempts to purchase alcohol from a licensed business to see if staff will allow the minor to purchase it, and to ensure that

staff is checking identification correctly. Volunteers carry their own ID that identifies them as a minor, and do not disguise their age or lie to encourage sales of alcohol. Commission inspectors or other law enforcement officers supervise the minor throughout the sting operations.

Businesses that do sell alcohol to the minor decoys face serious consequences

“We have a progressive sanction schedule. The first violation of this type can carry a fine of $1,650 or a 10-day liquor license suspension. The second violation (in a two-year period) can carry a fine of $4,950 or a 30-day liquor license suspension. A third violation (in a two-year period) is a 30-day liquor license suspension. A fourth violation (in a two-year period) can be liquor license cancellation,” Scott said.

The OLCC offers free training courses on how to properly check ID’s. Participants also may learn how to identify false identification and the laws surrounding minors and alcohol. For more information or to schedule a training session call the OLCC regional office at 1-800-452-6522.

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