Illinois driver’s licenses and state IDs for those younger than 21 might as well have red flags and flashing warning lights attached to them. Each license has a vertical display, not horizontal. In addition, there is a red stripe, on which there is wording that indicates the cardholder is younger than 21.
If someone displays such an ID, those tasked with checking to make certain someone is legally able to order alcoholic beverages clearly should be able to determine that the person is too young. But in Batavia, a recent liquor enforcement campaign resulted in a disappointing showing. Thirteen of the city’s 34 businesses with liquor licenses failed the test.
Batavia Mayor Jeff Schielke said all but two of the businesses were first-time offenders, and all will be fined, with the repeat offenders facing a higher fine. Also, the server who violated the code would participate in Basset training. Schielke added they all will be retested soon, and those that fail again can expect a harsher penalty – Schielke said a suspension of the businesses’ liquor license could be in order, saying “serious action” would have to be taken.
“That’s where we’ll go,” Schielke said.
The operation worked like this – one of two selected people younger than 21 was sent to the Batavia establishments, with an undercover officer nearby. They attempted to purchase liquor and showed identification if they were asked. If they were served, the undercover officer would spring into action, and the server would be issued a citation. Schielke said it had been 18 months since the last test in Batavia.
It is baffling that so many businesses could fail such a test. There has been much fanfare over the campaign to prevent underage drinking, and it’s not uncommon for customers much older than 21 to be asked to produce an ID. If there is no trickery involved – a fake ID, perhaps – it should not be difficult to see the person isn’t old enough to purchase an alcoholic beverage.
Schielke pointed out that underage drinking has led to traffic fatalities in Batavia. There are reasons those younger than 21 are not allowed to legally drink. There is no excuse for businesses to allow it to happen, and it’s stunning that 13 out of 34 businesses in a city should fail such a test.
The Batavia businesses that failed the test should consider themselves fortunate to escape with a mere fine this time. Those in charge should embrace this opportunity to identify what went wrong and drive home the point to all employees that it won’t be tolerated again. Anything less than 100 percent success for the retest would be unacceptable.