Lt. Pat Burns, an ALERT coordinator and retired police officer, said the team uses underage customers to go into businesses and attempt to buy alcohol.
The minors use their own IDs, and an undercover officer is also present in the business to witness, he said.
“We don’t like to see it,” Burns said. “We’re not trying to get people out of business.”
Burns said bartenders often rely on the people working the door to check IDs, but they don’t always do it.
“The responsibility is ultimately on the person of sell,” he said.
And to help servers with that responsibility, Timmons and officer Samantha Williams held a meeting Thursday about the alcohol laws and what servers should look for in validating a patron’s driver’s license.
The meeting, called B.A.R.S. an acronym for Be A Responsible Server, was held at the Chapel Hill Post Office and was open to the public.
A group of about 13 observed as Timmons passed out confiscated driver’s licenses and told attendees what to look for in spotting a fake.
Williams discussed the signs of intoxication and gave the attendees different scenarios on how to refuse a sale.
She said bartenders have the right to refuse a sale to any patron as long as it’s not based on race, religion or other personal characteristics.
Ruff along with another server from Four Corners Grille, Lindsay Self, attended the meeting and both said they found it helpful, especially with Chapel Hill’s college town status.
“I’m really glad we got to see the fake ones,” Self said, who added she had a homemade ID when she was underage. “There’s some really good fakes.”
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Timmons said the team has held three other similar meetings since August for employees at several local bars including Vespa Ristorante, Goodfellows Bar and Players.
Timmons said during football season, ALERT focuses its efforts on underage tailgating due to limited manpower. That emphasis shifts to selling to minors once the season ends.
Violations are reported to the Alcohol Beverage Control Commission and servers are fined for first-time offenses.
Burns said he’s pleased with the heightened efforts to reduce underage drinking.
“It’s something we like to see because it fits what we’re trying to do,” he said. “We’re trying to send a message to businesses that they simply need to check ID.”
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