Underage Drinking: What Others Are Doing

 With support from the OJJDP Enforcing the Underage Drinking Laws Program, enforcement agencies, community organizations, youth, and other concerned citizens are working collaboratively to identify key issues and to implement effective enforcement strategies to reduce underage drinking and youth access to alcohol.


7 Nevada Counties Find That Compliance Checks Are Effective in

Preventing Alcohol Sales to Minors

“I knew we had a problem, but didn’t figure it was to this magnitude,” said Sheriff Bernie Romero of the White Pine County Sheriff’s Department. His comment followed 2 months of compliance checks and alcohol purchase surveys of alcohol retailers conducted by his department and other enforcement agencies in 7 Nevada counties. Between October and December 1999, these enforcement activities found that only 45% of the establishments complied with the State Age-21 laws by refusing to sell alcohol to minors. The 7 counties involved account for approximately 90% of Nevada’s total population; therefore, these findings offer a rather comprehensive look at the issue of retail availability in the State.

Kathy Bartosz, OJJDP State Coordinator and Grant Analyst for the Nevada Division of Child and Family Services -Juvenile Justice Commission, sites this effort as a major component of the State’s enforcement plan for the OJJDP Enforcing the Underage Drinking Laws Program. However, she and the enforcement agencies involved acknowledge that compliance checks alone, while effective, are not enough to reduce underage drinking. To better examine the low retail compliance rates and other factors making alcohol easily accessible to youth in Nevada, they brought enforcement agencies, community organizations, coalitions, retailers, and youth together for a

Local Policy Options training. Conducted by the Pacific Institute’s Center for Enforcing the Underage Drinking Laws, this interactive training helped community teams identify roles for everyone in increasing support for enforcement efforts to reduce underage drinking and to recognize other needed enforcement strategies, such as operations to address third party transactions of alcohol to youth.

Since the initial surveys and the State-wide training, the 7 counties have continued to conduct enforcement activities to increase the compliance rate among retailers. Every 2 months, the enforcement agencies report the percentage of retailers refusing to sell to underage “decoys” during compliance check operations. During the period March-April 2000, 69% of retailers complied by not selling to the minors – an increase of 24% since the beginning of the effort! Additionally, the compliance checks sparked other related efforts: a “hot-line” for tips about where youth can easily get alcohol, parents’ groups to mobilize support for enforcement efforts, and the establishment of a youth-conducted community judicial board to hear cases related to underage drinking and youth access to alcohol. “The enforcement agencies have been terrific, and the communities’ support has made these efforts all the more effective,” Bartosz remarked.

For more information about Nevada’s work with compliance checks, contact Kathy Bartosz, OJJDP State Coordinator, at 775-687-3987 or the Center for Enforcing the Underage Drinking Laws at 1-877-335-1287.

Medical Reviewer