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Training To Combat Underage Drinking

May 13, 2014, 10:03 PM by Don Jorgensen

Training To Combat Underage Drinking

Monday night, KELOLAND News rode along with the Minnehaha County Sheriff's office in an undercover liquor sting. Of the 24 businesses checked, only one sold to an underage buyer.

But even one is too many for law enforcement, which is why the State provides training to bar owners, clerks and bartenders with hopes of keeping alcohol out of the hands of minors.

The Minnehaha County Sheriff's Office calls a recent liquor sting a success.  Business after business turned down the undercover teen.  A lot of those bar owners and clerks were trained by the South Dakota Retailer's Association.

"I think it's had a significant impact," executive director of the South Dakota Retailer's Association Shawn Lyons said.

Lyons says the state has been providing training for 14 years either in the classroom or online. 

While it's not mandatory, it's beneficial for businesses to get employees trained. 

"The training goes through the whole series of South Dakota Codified Laws and addresses how businesses have to check I.D.'s and ramifications that are involved if they don't check I.D.'s. If they don't check I.D's, there are financial penalties that are associated with businesses if they get involved in a sting operation," Lyons said.

If an establishment is caught selling alcohol to an underage person, the business will be fined, but the penalty is doubled if the employee who sold the alcohol has not been through an approved training program.

Lyons says 24,000 individuals have been trained by his department and he feels it's making a difference.

"Over the 14 years that we've done training, you can see the number of sales to minors has dropped significantly," Lyons says.

If an establishment fails three liquor stings within a two year period, its alcohol license will be suspended for a period of time. 

You can hear more about underage alcohol sales, liquor stings and employee training on this week's Inside KELOLAND. That's Sunday night following the 10 o'clock news.

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