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Three Tualatin businesses fail OLCC sting

by: JOSH KULLA - The OLCC and the Tualatin Police Department are testing whether local businesses sell liquor to minors.The Tualatin Police Department teamed up with the Oregon Liquor Control Commission to put local business owners to the test. Three failed.

On Feb. 22, youth volunteers served as "minor decoys," visiting 11 establishments in Tualatin licensed to service alcohol. Minors were instructed to be truthful if asked their ages, and did not attempt to use false identification.

Washington County Health and Human Services funded the program in the hopes of fostering a 100 percent compliance rate among businesses.

All three organizations feel there is no excuse for mistaking a minor for an of-age customer: Server education has been required in the state of Oregon since 1987.

Tualatin's 73 percent compliance rate -- at least among last weekend's sample group -- is despite hefty penalties already in place, which penalize not only the business itself but the cashier or server involved. A first-time offense comes with a $350 fine, a second offense carries a $1,000 fine and a third-time offense means a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 30 days, in addition to a $1,000 fine. The establishment itself may also face sanctions, license suspension or revocation, and up to $4,950 in fines.

According to the OLCC, Oregon taxpayers shelled out nearly $660 million for underage drinking-related expenses in 2010, taking into account the costs associated with youth injury, alcohol treatment, violence, traffic crashes and fetal alcohol system.

But that same year, the beer industry proved a $2.4 billion boon to the state's economy, and wine-related tourism added more than $158 million, the OLCC reported.

Other Tualatin businesses would be wise to heed these results as a cautionary tale: These sting-style operations will continue for the rest of the year. The last such effort occurred in late October of 2013.



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