Underage Drinking: Success Stories



Drinking: Success Stories





30, 2002



of Problem











support from the OJJDP Enforcing the Underage Drinking Laws Initiative,

community organizations, enforcement agencies, youth, and other concerned

citizens are working collaboratively to change local ordinances and

enforcement practices.



Checks in Nevada: 

Enforcement through

Local Ordinance

In response to a recent court decision, law enforcement agencies across

Nevada are using local ordinances to enforce underage drinking laws. These

ordinances ensure that the penalties imposed during compliance checks will


The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) in

Nevada, with its unique commitment to the Enforcing Underage Drinking Laws (EUDL)

program, has dedicated an officer, John Schutt, to work full-time on

efforts across the state. Until recently these efforts included compliance

checks that were conducted under a state law prohibiting sales of alcohol

to minors. However, in Garcia v.

District Court, the Nevada Supreme Court decided that the law

required the seller to know?or have good reason to suspect?that the

purchaser was a minor, even though the seller had no

obligation to ask for identification. The decision made it nearly

impossible for authorities to cite sellers under the state law, unless

they could prove that the seller knew the purchaser was a minor.


Faced with this tough standard from the

court, enforcement agencies statewide have turned to local ordinances to

conduct checks. These rules can be strict-liability?meaning the seller

is accountable regardless of the buyer?s appearance or failure to

produce I.D.

Las Vegas provides an example of this shift. When the Garcia ruling was issued, the city had no ordinance on sales

to minors, and the decision threatened to halt ongoing compliance checks

in the city. Although no longer able to issue fines, officers continued

the checks and simply warned stores of violations. Meanwhile, in support

of LVMPD, local advocates, including Diane Pidsosny of Stand

Tall?Don?t Fall: United Against Underage Drinking (funded by OJJDP),

pushed for an ordinance that would prohibit sales to minors. They found

support from Councilman Gary Reese, who introduced an ordinance that

would close the Garcia loophole. Cooperation between the City Council and the

LVMPD was extremely effective, says Pidsosny, and the ordinance was

approved within two months.


the initial setback from the Garcia decision, the situation has raised awareness of

underage drinking issues in Nevada.

The next step for Silver

State advocates is to encourage legislators to fix the law that created the

compliance check loophole. Until that happens, Nevada?s

law enforcement will continue compliance checks according to local



more information, contact Diane Pidsosny at 702-436-2920 or Officer John

Schutt at 702-813-7226.



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Underage Drinking: Success Stories
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