Underage drinking is a serious concern in Nevada, and police agencies across the state are working to remind retailers, alcohol servers, and teens that if they do not abide by the laws, they will face consequences. Students are returning to classes for the Fall semester. Many young adults are moving in to dorms and living on their own for the first time. For many, that means a new sense of freedom.
Many students will be busy adjusting to their new schedules, making new friends, and in many cases, partying around and off campus. A report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration indicates that almost 38% of young adults Nevada have engaged in binge drinking (SAMHSA). If you work selling or serving alcoholic beverages, be on the lookout for underage drinkers, and make sure to always check for valid identification. Additionally, remember to keep a close eye on patrons and make sure no one is over-served. Even adults ages 21 and over need to be monitored closely to keep things safe. For more tips on stopping underage drinkers, read our blog post, “A Dangerous Cocktail –Teen Drinking.”
Police are stepping up their patrols around the state. Don’t forget, alcohol education in mandatory in both Clark and Washoe counties. In addition to online and classes in Las Vegas, TAM® of Nevada is able to conduct alcohol awareness online course proctoring in Reno, and offers courses for individuals once a month in Mesquite.
Imagine this: you are working a busy special event at your bar, serving beverages to customers. A young man walks up to the bar and orders a pint of beer. You size him up. He seems sober, confident, and greets you with a smile. But, he does look like he might be a little young. You wonder if the bouncer at the door checked his I.D. Think fast – what do you do? Ask to see I.D. to confirm his age, or make the sale and send him back to his table with a pint? If you chose option number two, you would have failed the test.
This past Saturday marked Reno’s 17th annual Santa Pub Crawl event. While a festive and fun occasion for thousands of participants. Local law enforcement were working to help keep things safe. Five area businesses were cited for serving alcohol to minors. The Reno area’s Regional Street Enforcement Team, comprised of area police departments, conducts regular alcohol compliance and TAM Card checks. On Saturday, the Team sent four 18-20 year-old volunteers out to attempt alcohol purchases at 51 area businesses. This time around, five of those businesses made sales to the minors. These volunteers were given instructions to show their actual state-issued I.D. if they were asked for it, clearly identifying them as underage, according to authorities.
The penalties can be severe. In Nevada, serving alcohol to a minor and allowing a minor into a bar are misdemeanors, with a pre-designated fine of $500. Now, think about your training. Would you pass an alcohol compliance check? Here are some tips for keeping things safe and legal:
- Get your mandatory TAM® Card and alcohol awareness training. TAM® will train you on how to correctly check identification and how to spot fake, borrowed, or altered ID. Police officers may ask to see your alcohol awareness card during an alcohol compliance check, so it is important to be prepared.
- Check ID very carefully, and look for any inconsistencies. Watch for anyone who seems either nervous, or over confident. When checking the birth date of a customer, don’t rely only on the birth year alone to confirm someone is of legal drinking age. Minors may try to pull a fast one on busy or distracted workers by purchasing alcohol just a few months or weeks shy of their 21st birthdays. As evidenced by this recent operation, doing the math correctly is very important.
- Be vigilant about third party sales. If you see a third party (like an adult, who was approached by a minor in the parking lot) attempt to purchase alcohol for a person under 21, you have a responsibility to take steps to curtail the activity. Retailers have the right to refuse any sale when a reasonable person in their position would conclude that the adult is purchasing on behalf of an underage person. Not only do TAM Card holders have a legal and ethical responsibility not to make sales to intoxicated persons and minors; they must also be vigilant in preventing sales to other people who are clearly purchasing alcohol for minors.
Every establishment needs policies to prevent alcohol sales to minors, and to protect themselves from liability, and the public from harm. Tell us in the Comments below – how else do you think service workers can help curb teen drinking?
17th Annual Santa Crawl Hits Downtown Reno – KTNV
Often imitated, never duplicated, TAM® of Nevada has been the sole provider of official TAM® Cards to the Nevada community for over 25 years. Although there may be some other providers of credible alcohol awareness training classes in Nevada, not all courses are created equal. Rest assured, more employers recommend TAM® of Nevada for their employees’ alcohol education than any other provider, and for good reason. TAM® of Nevada students handle over 17 million sales transactions each year, and they’ve been trained to do it safely and effectively.
We know that hospitality professionals are busy, so we go above and beyond to provide you will the most effective and streamlined experience possible when it comes to obtaining a TAM® Card every four years. So what sets us apart from the competition? Here are a few reasons you can be happy you chose TAM® for your alcohol education card:
- Our training is engaging and valuable. Don’t settle for subpar training with pages of text and clip art or dull videos played by bored instructors. Our online and classroom course options both include fresh content with industry-specific scenarios for all types of employees. You can be sure your training is as up-to-date as possible, as reviews and updates are made to course material as necessary to keep pace with local and state laws and statutes. We also diligently review student feedback for anything we can do to further improve your class experience. Additionally, if you choose to complete your course in the classroom, you’ll get valuable instruction from fun and entertaining instructors with decades of industry experience.
- We don’t take shortcuts; be proud that your alcohol training and TAM® Card meet or exceed all state requirements. We work with state officials to make sure you receive the best education possible, touching on all required content. Additionally, we leverage our relationships with local employers and police agencies to make sure you learn about topics that are important to you, important to those who make hiring decisions and important in helping to keep consumers safe.
- Be proud that your card can’t be duplicated or obtained by cheating. Your TAM® Card will include your photo on the front of the card, just like a driver’s license. Not all alcohol awareness providers include a photo on their cards. We take this extra step to protect you, to verify your legitimate course completion, and to show your employer that you’ve completed the official TAM-branded course. Visit our website to see an example of a TAM Card, and steps on what to look for to make sure your TAM® Card is official!
- Additionally, the State of Nevada requires that all students must physically go to a course provider’s approved school location to take an exam that is proctored, and pass the proctored exam with a score of at least 75% to obtain a card. This means that you’ll either take your test at the conclusion of your classroom course, or you’ll have to visit our office after completing the online course to take your exam. This step ensures that cheaters aren’t able to obtain a card or let someone else take their exam for them. Be wary of any provider that promises to mail you an alcohol awareness card after completing an online exam, this is in violation of state law!
All in all, our students should all be proud once they’ve completed a TAM course. Carrying your card shows employees and coworkers that you’re committed to an important part of your job duties and responsibilities.
While the rate of alcohol abuse among teens has fallen in recent years, it still represents a huge, and dangerous, problem. In fact, underage drinking accounted for over 189,000 emergency room visits in 2010 (SAMHSA). Researchers, advocates and policy experts are hard at work to find ways to reduce teen drinking. In the meantime, a new finding about the choices made by teen drinkers has emerged out of a study from Boston University and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Not only are teenagers getting their hands on alcoholic beverages for the purpose of binge drinking, they have brand-driven alcohol preferences. Some results from the study include:
- Binge drinking among young people is highly prevalent. 67% of drinks consumed by teens aged 13 to 20 done so as part of binge drinking episodes.
- 14% of those survey reported having drunk Bud Light at least once, followed by 7% have drunk Jack Daniel’s bourdon. Other popular choices were Smirnoff malt beverages, Budweiser, and Coors Light.
- There is no strong trend toward one particular type of alcoholic beverage. The 25 most cited brands are diverse, and include beers, vodkas, whiskeys, rums, malt beverages, and cognacs.
For more information on study results, refer to the Washington Post article, “What underage drinkers drink when they binge drink.”
How can hospitality professionals help to prevent underage drinking? It only takes a minute to check an ID and prevent a minor from entering a bar and buying a drink. Gas stations, grocery stores and liquor stores are also places that teens turn to in order to purchase liquor, especially canned or bottled beer packs and malt liquors. Staffers at those establishments should take steps to ensure they are doing all they can to prevent illegal sales.
The RR Forum makes excellent and common-sense suggestions for helping to curb teenage drinking from off-site sales. For their tips, you may refer to the article on the FTC website at “Alcohol Retailers Can Help Reduce Teen Drinking.” Everyone involved in sales should be TAM®-certified, aware of store policies regarding acceptable forms of ID, and also when and how to refuse a sale.
How else do you think service workers can help curb teen drinking?
© 2014 National Hospitality Institute®, TAM® of Nevada