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Monday December 6th

Alcohol sales to underage buyers drop 5 percent in Chapel Hill

<p>State governments have been responsible for regulating the sale and distribution of alcoholic beverages since Prohibition ended in 1933. While state governments regulate alcohol through one of two models - control or licensure - each individual system of regulation varies across states.&nbsp;</p>
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State governments have been responsible for regulating the sale and distribution of alcoholic beverages since Prohibition ended in 1933. While state governments regulate alcohol through one of two models - control or licensure - each individual system of regulation varies across states. 

Capt. Josh Mecimore, spokesperson for the Chapel Hill Police Department, said the numbers were taken from CHPD enforcement efforts — called compliance checks — carried out on local businesses serving alcohol.

Mecimore said 5 percent isn’t the final goal.

“It’s movement in the right direction, and it’s that partnership we have with the local businesses that’s starting to pay off, so we’ll continue to work on that,” he said.

For a compliance check, police have underage buyers attempt to buy alcohol with their real IDs. When a business fails the compliance check, Mecimore said the police department issues a state citation to the person who sold to the underage buyer.

The police department then reports the business to the state ABC Commission, where any additional consequences would be given.

Agnes Stevens, spokesperson for the ABC Commission, said it’s really important that people selling or serving alcohol are aware of the laws and their responsibilities.

Tony Dubois, general manager of the Orange County ABC Board, said money allocated for alcohol education and enforcement, and funding has increased each year for the past five or six years.

Mecimore said it all starts with education.

The police department offers B.A.R.S. training, where business owners, bartenders, waitresses and waiters learn what to look for in identifying fake IDs, underage and over-served patrons.

“I think it boils down to that collaboration — the work that we and the local businesses do together to train on the expectations that the law sets for them as businesses that are selling alcohol,” Mecimore said.

Linda’s Bar and Grill owner Chris Carini said he doesn’t feel bad about repeatedly asking people for their IDs when serving alcohol.

Carini said Linda’s has received certificates in the mail signifying that those who conducted compliance checks weren’t able to buy alcohol underage.

“We have, so far, been tested three times that I can remember in the last year and a half or so, and we’ve passed it every time,” Carini said.

Carini is a partner in the Campus and Community Coalition to Reduce the Negative Impacts of High Risk Drinking, which is a local coalition aiming to alleviate some of the negative effects on the community resulting from high-risk drinking behaviors.

Elinor Landess, the coalition director, said the coalition recommends consistent compliance checks and education so that businesses can pass the checks.

“The police department has been doing a lot of work to ramp up their education efforts, and it’s also partnered with folks across the community and at the state level,” Landess said.

Landess said the percentage of businesses that have failed compliance checks has gone down by 31 percent within the last three years.

“And I think, frankly, there’s a culture shift happening in town as a result of a lot of different partners, including bars and restaurants, where they’re recognizing that a change needs to happen in Chapel Hill,” Landess said.

city@dailytarheel.com



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