Within our sphere of personal connections, many of us know someone whose life was changed in a negative way as a result of underage consumption of alcohol.
Someone arrested. Someone injured or killed in a wreck. Someone who died from binge drinking. Someone for whom underage drinking led to an addiction. Someone whose family suffered.
There are too many of those “someones” out there.
The Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office is trying to do something about that.
Last weekend, the department conducted an undercover operation to see how many local businesses would sell to underage buyers. The result was disappointing. Out of 100 stores and restaurants targeted by officers, underage purchases were made in 21. At one of every five businesses, clerks were cited for selling to underage buyers.
Last weekend’s underage alcohol sweep was the eighth by the sheriff’s office this year. You would think local business owners, and their employees, would be smarter by now. That such isn’t the case makes you wonder if perhaps the punishment phase of the process isn’t sufficiently feared.
In these undercover buys, underage patrons presented their own driver’s licenses for identification, if they were even asked. There were no false IDs, no faked documents showing them to be older than they are, no effort to mislead unsuspecting store clerks.
The cases against the clerks now will make their way through Magistrate Courts. In those instances where the clerks are found guilty, the county commission will then review the status of the business owner’s license to sell alcohol, and decide if the license should be suspended or revoked, or whether a simple warning is sufficient.
The sheriff’s office deserves a pat on the back for targeting the issue of underage sales and continuing to make the community aware of the problem in a high profile manner. But it’s saddening to think that so many members of the business community are willing to allow the problem to exist at all. As Maj. Rick Doyle said, “You don’t need the $2 profit from a six-pack from a 16-year-old.”
It’s disheartening to know that on last weekend’s sweep 20 percent of the businesses tested failed. As a community, we should demand better. Checking the identification of a potential buyer of alcohol, and saying “no” to those who aren’t of age, really isn’t a complicated process. In fact, it’s a simple way to reduce the number of “someones” whose lives are forever changed by underage drinking.