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Businesses Warned to be More Vigilant With Underage Customers

Some confusion over the vertical drivers license led to minors being allowed to purchase alcohol, but business owners remain adamant that they will do what they can to train employees to keep booze out of minors' hands

The Wisconsin drivers license is the primary form of ID that most retailers see used to prove someone's age, but apparently not all local retailers and their employees knew that a vertically oriented license indicates a person is likely under age 21.

Three businesses were summoned to the Finance Committee Tuesday evening to discuss why an underage customer sent in by police and using a valid ID that showed that he was only 18 or 19 would be served alcohol. While all three instances had the employee requesting an ID, none prevented the purchase of over the counter liquor or carry out sales.

"There's no excuse, really," said Jim Sneesby of Sneesby's Denoon Saloon, who attended with his bartender. She admitted to the committee that it had been her first day, and felt pressure to be in a hurry, and didn't "do the math" correctly when figuring the date.

"Our crowd is generally young adults with children, young families, or those in their 40s and 50s. We train our employees to check carefully, but we are glad (the police) are watching," he said.

Bob O'Connor of Jetz Fuel said that his employee had been terminated basically because they require the date to be entered on the register before the sale can proceed. In addition, every employee signs a policy stating if they don't follow the rules, they will be terminated.

"Training has always been a part of our policy, every employee goes through it, but unfortunately we can only do so much, and people have free will," O'Connor explained.

The clerk at Aldi who entered the date did so incorrectly, and told the committee that the license would not have been an immediate tip-off for her, as she is 22 and still holds a vertical ID.

Police Chief Craig Moser explained that the license should be a flag to anyone, and was designed specifically to call attention to the ID holder's age. It can happen, he admitted, that the expiration date on such a license goes past the age of 21, but it's ultimately up to the person reading the license to do so carefully and know the cut off date for what's legal and what's not.

While the committee left the matter as a warning, they also stressed to the employees that it's not just a matter of their jobs, but also the license that their employers are allowed to hold.

"We don't like to see people more than once, and for that matter we don't like having people here in this regard at all," said Alderman Neil Borgman.

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