Compliance Checks

The "Covert Underage Buyer Program" is a successful underage drinking enforcement strategy designed to encourage compliance by alcohol vendors.

The Sullivan County Anti-Drug Coalition supports this motivational tool to nurture compliance with the law and reduction in the availability of alcohol to minors.

How Compliance Checks Are Conducted

  1. Underage youth are carefully selected and trained in the laws regarding alcohol sale and purchase so they are thoroughly familiar with the protocol for the testing program.
    • Volunteers for a compliance check can be police cadets, criminology students from a local college or they can be recruits from Boys Scouts or Eagle Scouts, Girl Scouts or other youth organizations.
  2. Police officers or alcohol beverage control agents accompany the volunteers to each site.
    • The enforcement officers can enter the premises in plain clothes to observe the buy.
  3. The officers also are responsible for collecting and maintaining any evidence, including sales receipts, etc.
    • Officers often photograph underage volunteers immediately before and after a check which results in a violation. This insures offenders cannot complain that the volunteer looks over 30 or has disguised their age in any other way.
  4. Underage youth enter retail stores, bars or restaurants and determine if they can buy alcohol.
    • The underage volunteers should look their age and should not lie about their age if a vendor inquires.
  5. After the sale is made to the underage youth, police or alcohol beverage control officers waiting outside or standing nearby charge the establishment.

Recommendations for Compliance Checks

  • Law enforcement officers or alcohol beverage control agents should take the lead in conducting compliance checks to insure proper procedures are followed and volunteers are not exposed to risk.
  • Publicize compliance checks to motivate licensees.
    • Establishments which have not been tested may be more vigilant because they fear failing.
    • Licensees who have failed and whose names are made public may be spurred to be more careful because they do not want to face fines or closures and negative public opinion about their business practices.
    • Publicity about the check and other enforcement efforts also reaffirms the seriousness of the underage drinking problem and assures the public that everyone is held equally responsible for their behavior, whether they are adults or youth.

Information from the National Highway Safety Administration