How easy is it not to sell alcohol to minors? Since anyone buying booze has to have a valid identification with their date of birth, it should be pretty simple. A recent sting in Sandusky, Ohio netted eight locations where an undercover 18-year-old was sold alcohol.
According to police, some of the cited clerks checked the driver's license of the 18-year-old confidential informant before selling the alcohol. Others didn't check his ID at all.
Of course there were excuses. Some said they got confused about the different ages for alcohol and tobacco. That would be criminal if it were true.
Clerks cited for selling alcohol to an underage person, a first-degree misdemeanor, could face sentences of up to six months in jail and fines of up to $1,000. At least some of the clerks were fired.
Nine businesses across Sandusky County were checked on the first night, and another 11 were checked the second night. The goal is to prevent drug and alcohol abuse among youth.
Enforcing the law through the compliance checks can, in turn, help prevent traffic crashes, teen pregnancy, the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, youth suicide attempts and crime in general.
Alcohol sales to people under the drinking age of 21 appeared to be on the decline, though these checks showed a sharp resurgence of violations.
In 2004, 48 percent of all vendors checked in the city sold alcohol or tobacco to an underage person, according to data from the Sandusky County Prevention Partnership Coalition.
During the most recent checks, eight of the 20 businesses checked sold alcohol to the 18-year-old, resulting in a 40 percent non-compliance rate. That number is still way too high. Perhaps an in-class or online alcohol awareness class should be mandatory for anyone with the ability to sell alcohol.