By Tim Kowols and Kewaunee County Sheriff Matt Joski
Local law enforcement departments are cracking down on bars serving alcoholic drinks to minors and other possible violations. State Statute 125 covers everything from operating hours to the different types of licenses to owners. Kewaunee County Sheriff Matt Joski says many establishments his department does compliance checks on are following the law, but they do use minors on occasion to attempt to buy alcohol just to make sure. Joski says they are not focusing on particular businesses or trying to trick anyone, but hopes the situation becomes a teaching moment for bar owners and their employees.
According to SellerServer.com, accepting fake identification to sell alcohol could be up to a $500 fine for a first offense and a similar fine plus up to 30 days in jail for a second offense. You can read the rest of Joski’s Sheriff’s Corner below.
Among the various complaints that I receive throughout the year are those related to underage patrons frequenting our licensed establishments throughout the county. Just as in any industry there are those businesses that are diligent to the adherence to the law and others who do not take their responsibility seriously. The issue of alcohol licensing and enforcement is an interesting one as it relies on the shared responsibility between the municipality in which the business is located and the law enforcement agency of that community. It requires communication to make sure that both entities are informed so that they can make effective decisions in regards to license enforcement as well as license renewals.
The State Statute which covers the laws related to licensed establishments is found in Chapter 125 and covers everything from hours of business to the various types of licenses and the limitations of those licenses.
While the respective municipality is responsible for issuance and renewals, Law Enforcement is primarily tasked with compliance. As I stated earlier we many times follow up on specific complaints by paying a visit to the business in question and verify the presence of those not allowed by law as well verifying that the proper permits are clearly posted and those serving are properly licensed.
Occasionally we must conduct a more broad verification process to verify that those licensed establishments are indeed compliant without having any specific concerns or focus. This will be the case throughout the next few months. We will be utilizing individuals not of legal age to enter the various establishments in an attempt to purchase alcohol. Again we are not focusing on any specific establishment and hope that our efforts are met with proper action by those behind the bar or counter as to refuse these young individuals of any service. If in fact the proper action is not taken by the licensed server we will then have a conversation with both the owner and the employee and citations may be issued.
It is not our intention to surprise or trick any of our valued local businesses which is why I am making this issue the topic of this article so that our future actions are well known and understood. It is my hope that the various business owners will take this opportunity to meet with their employees and review with them their obilgations and requirements as part of their licensing. We would like nothing better than to conduct these checks only to find that these underage individuals were refused each and every time at each and every location. If any businesses would like more information on the various laws pertaining to their licenses there is a great handbook (Publication 302) which can be found on the Department of Revenue Website: www.revenue.wi.gov