TABC goes undercover looking for stores selling alcohol to minors - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

3/11/10

TABC goes undercover looking for stores selling alcohol to minors

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LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) -

By Katie Bauer  - bio | email

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Every month the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission goes undercover to find violators, those selling alcohol to customers under the age of 21.

On Friday agents were in full force to make sure the law was followed. "Thursday their big focus is on off-premise locations, which are basic places that sell alcoholic beverages to-go," said Sgt. Michael Lockhart with the TABC.

During a sting, TABC officers will send in underage agents to try to purchase alcoholic beverages. We asked if these stores are selling to minors. "They are. The percentage rate is pretty consistent with what we have across the state," said Lockhart.

Throughout the South Plains, the TABC checks on 400 different locations. They usually conduct two stings a month, targeting 20 to 25 stores at a time. "We come around to the same places on a regular basis so we probably should be better than the state average and that's kind of a concern that we are not," said Lockhart.

In previous stings, stores like 7-Eleven at 2608 Ave Q, E-Z Mart at 4426 34th Street, and Buddy's Convenience store at 518 50th Street have been caught selling to minors.

The violations, if a clerk is caught, it is a class a misdemeanor meaning up to $4,000 fine, and or up to a year in jail. The store will also be given a citation. "We'll go through and bring them in and we'll do what what's called a field settlement conference and we'll either at point settle the case, or we'll send it to our legal division and they'll set up a hearing with the state office of administrative hearing," said Lockhart.

The good news is that Lockhart says most of the stores that are cited are usually just one time offenders. So that's why he wants to remind stores to take a little extra time and pay attention to the customers' ids. "It just takes an extra few seconds to check and do it right," said Lockhart.

Lockhart says typically three locations are cited for selling to minors each month. The TABC does not just go undercover in convenience stores, but in local restaurants and bars as well.

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