During two April weekends, 31 (9%) out of 357 businesses checked in the Omaha metro area were cited for selling alcohol to minors during compliance check operations. A summary sheet of the enforcement results and a full list of businesses checked are available by clicking here.
Ninety-nine percent of businesses that refused to sell to the minor checked the ID, while 18 of the 31 businesses that were cited didn't even ask for the minors' IDs.
"The most important thing we'd like to stress to the business community is to check IDs and verify the purchaser's age. The State of Nebraska has made it very easy to refuse the sale of alcohol to minors by issuing vertical licenses and adding bold red text that states the minor is under the age of 21," said Lt. Orin Orchard of the Papillion Police Department. "Nearly 60% of businesses that sold alcohol to minors during the operation didn't even request the ID. That's the most important first step."
Another concerning issue that arose from these and past compliance checks is that some businesses are illegally allowing minors to sell alcohol. Due to a change in state law in recent years, 16- to 18-year-olds can complete a transaction involving alcohol if they are not handling or serving alcoholic liquor. During last month, two businesses were cited for allowing a minor to sell alcohol -- one employee was 18 and the other was 14.
Four businesses cited are facing enhanced penalties due to prior sales to minors within the last four years -- the time frame used by the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission (LCC) to assess penalties. If found guilty, they will face mandatory days of closure (no alcohol sales allowed) and days of suspension that can be paid off as a fine at $100 per day according to the LCC's penalty guidelines. Those businesses include:
- Dinah Mart, 1007 Galvin Rd S, Bellevue (7/20);
- KB's Food Shop, 304 S Washington St, Papillion (9/20, 12/14, 12/06);
- Mega Saver, 4420 S 24th St, Omaha (9/20);
- Speedy Gas N Shop, 5822 Maple St, Omaha (12/20).
The other 27 businesses are facing their first sale to a minor violation within the last four years. If found guilty by the LCC, these businesses could be facing 10-20 days of suspension that they could choose to pay off as a fine at $50 per day in lieu of suspension. Six of those businesses had previous sales to minor violations, but they fell outside of the four-year window that the LCC uses for determining progressive penalties.
Fifty officers from the Bellevue, La Vista, Omaha, Papillion, and Ralston Police Departments as well as the Douglas and Sarpy County Sheriff's Offices participated in the four-day, enhanced underage drinking enforcement effort.
To report underage drinking or adults providing alcohol to minors, call the statewide tip line at 1-866-Must-B-21 (687-8221). It's anonymous, and it's the right call. Individuals are urged to call 911 to report an underage drinking party in progress.
Heightened enforcements are supported by the Nebraska Department of Transportation - Highway Safety Office as well as the Strategic Prevention Framework - Partnerships for Success and the Substance Abuse Prevention Block Grant from SAMHSA through the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services and Region 6 Behavioral Healthcare. NDOT-HSO also funds the tip line. Project Extra Mile helped to coordinate the enforcement efforts.