Imagine this: you are serving beverages to customers, just like any other day. A younger couple visits your establishment and orders two glasses of chardonnay. You size them up and they seem sober and confident, but they look like they might be a little young. Think fast – what do you do? Ask to see I.D., or make the sale and send them on their way? If you chose option number two, you would have failed the test.
This past Saturday marked Reno’s Wine Walk event, and eight businesses were cited for serving 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 two 18-20 year-old volunteers out to attempt alcohol purchases at 24 area businesses. This time around, eight of those businesses made sales to the minors. Furthermore, these volunteers provided 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.
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?
Eight businesses fail underage alcohol compliance check at Reno Wine Walk
There is a common misconception that one must be 21 years old to obtain a TAM® Card, but in reality TAM® training is available to individuals ages 16 and up. Remember, anyone who works in sales and service of alcoholic beverages, or in security at establishments that serve or sell alcoholic beverages in Southern Nevada must obtain an alcohol awareness card (Nevada Revised Statutes). Many minors and young adults work in positions that may require them to have their cards. Examples include cashiering or clerking at grocery and convenience stores. Workers ages 16-17 may handle sealed alcoholic beverages such as wine bottles or beer cans if they are employed at these types of establishments, as long as they are supervised by an adult.
Rules are different for hospitality professionals working at on-premises locations, and this is often where the confusion about alcohol awareness training regulations comes in. One must be 21 years or older to serve alcohol for consumption on the premises. In other words, if you work in a bar, restaurant, casino or other establishment where you are responsible for mixing or serving open alcoholic beverages, you must be of legal drinking age yourself. Additionally, one must also be 21 or older to be allowed inside a casino. These rules are applicable to individuals in positions such as bartenders, waiters, cocktail servers, etc.
Need help making sure you or your staff is in compliance with all applicable rules and regulations? Learn more about laws and regulations for servers and sellers of alcoholic beverages in Nevada and complete your mandatory alcohol awareness training with TAM®. Laws and statutes can be confusing because they are at the state, county, and city levels; and yes, there are additional gaming regulations in some cases. TAM training will cover all of these laws with you and make sure you understand the ways to reduce your risk and liability. Also remember to follow the rules of conduct laid out by your employer. Many companies have additional policies to maintain guest and employee safety, so make sure to check with your manager or supervisor about any extra procedures in place.
Saving lives means getting tough about DUIs. In an effort to improve safety and security of those on the road, Nevada may join the more than 25 states which require ignition interlock devices for first-time DUI offenders.
These devices, which are attached to a vehicle’s ignition system, are another tool which can be used to keep intoxicated drivers off the road. Before a driver can start their car, they must breathe into a breathalyzer device. If alcohol is detected on their breath, the car will not start.
A Nevada Senate panel is considering Senate Bill 259, which would mean big changes to Nevada state law. The bill proposes installing ignition interlock devices on vehicles of anyone arrested for driving under the influence, for a minimum of six months. In the current system, judges generally have discretion to order these devices for people arrested with exceptionally high blood-alcohol levels, or for repeat DUI offenders.
According to the CDC, ignition interlocks reduce repeat offenses for driving while intoxicated by about 70% while they are installed. So what do you think – would you like to see Nevada toughen up their rules of ignition interlocks for DUI offenders? Let us know in the Comments below.
Over 200,000 hospitality and service workers are employed in Clark County, most of who are required, by state law, to receive alcohol awareness training and carry an alcohol education card. How many of them work for you? Are you confident that your staff was properly trained to spot minors using fake I.D. and to take the risk seriously?
A recent news story out of California details the dangers of lax beverage service policies. The Camino Real Restaurant in Bakersfield had its liquor license suspended in 2011 for 20 days after employees served alcohol to a minor who later died in a DUI crash. This week the California Alcoholic Beverage Control has revoked the restaurant’s liquor license for serving alcohol to minors in a decoy operation; this happened while the restaurant was still on probation for the original 2011 offense.
California isn’t the only state to get tough on liquor laws. Nevada law enforcement agencies are working to strictly enforce state and local laws, and are performing routine decoy operations and sobriety checkpoints. In Nevada, hospitality workers who are caught serving minors may be charged with a misdemeanor which can result in up to 6 months in jail and up to a $1000 fine. Owners and managers of businesses that are caught selling alcohol to minors can also be issued citations and could face the revocation of their business licenses.
Every establishment needs policies and procedures to prevent underage persons from obtaining alcohol, and to protect themselves from liability, and the public from harm. Additionally, losing a liquor license means a loss of liquor revenue which can cripple an establishment’s profits. Decoy operations are not just used to catch those selling alcohol to minors, they can also be used to check the validity of your alcohol education card and whether it is expired. Make sure your TAM® training is up-to-date or sign up today for one of our alcohol awareness classes.
Don’t put yourself or your business at risk. Always ask for identification, and get educated on effective ways to help stop teen drinking.
© 2013 National Hospitality Institute®, TAM® of Nevada