A quarter of businesses served alcohol to minors during a recent compliance check by the Williston Police Department.
The checks, which took place over two days in January, were at 49 of the 53 businesses licensed to serve alcohol in Williston, according to Sgt. Detective Danielle Hendricks of the Williston police. Of those, 12 businesses, or 25 percent, served minors.
That’s down from 31 percent during checks last year, but still a worrying number, Hendricks said.
“The last time we did this, we were at 31 percent, so percentagewise, it’s gone down, but it’s still concerning,” she said.
The compliance checks are done in conjunction with Partnership for Success, a group that tries to prevent underage drinking. Each establishment is visited by a team of two police officers and someone younger than 21. The minor approaches a server and asks for alcohol.
If he or she is served, the police remove the minor and then return later to issue a citation to the server, Hendricks said.
If asked for ID, the minors give their real identification card or drivers license.
“There’s no fake IDs,” Hendricks said. “There’s no trickery here.”
Selling alcohol to someone under 21 is a class B misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 30 days in jail.
There is also a training course required for anyone who serves alcohol at a licensed establishment, according to Hendricks. The course is offered four times a year, and people have to take it within 90 days of starting a job where they serve alcohol.
Five of the businesses where a server was caught selling alcohol to a minor also had a server cited last year, according to data provided by the Williston police. They were the M&H gas station at the corner of 11th Street and Second Avenue West, Scenic Sports, Applebee’s, Basil and the Racers gas station on 26th Street West.
In addition to the server being cited, businesses may face disciplinary action from the city.
The checks are important as a way to combat underage drinking, as well as prevent drunken driving or medical issues like alcohol poisoning, Hendricks said.
“We’re going to try and keep doing these throughout the year,” she said.