The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

June 14, 2013

Feeling the sting

Alcohol sales to those not of legal age needs to be stopped ... now

— Let’s all get on board with helping eliminate a growing, frightening social epidemic — underage drinking in our area.

We all need to be unified in this effort to be effective.

But there’s a problem.

Local law enforcement officers reported that 21 stores and bars in Raleigh County were cited for selling alcohol to minors following a multi-agency sting conducted last week.

Officers from Beckley Police Department, Raleigh County Sheriff’s Department and the West Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Administration went undercover to accompany underage buyers into 72 establishments during the sting.

Our efforts won’t be fruitful if the suppliers of alcohol don’t follow the law.

On a positive note, 51 establishments followed the law and did not sell alcohol to minors in this sting.

To those, thank you for doing your job effectively and following the law.

But 21 others did not?

That’s a significant number.

And discouraging.

It means that if a minor is seeking to purchase alcohol in Raleigh County, they have about a 1 in 4 chance in finding someone to sell it to them.

That’s disgraceful.

As much publicity as these stings garner, it’s almost unfathomable that we still have this many establishments not following the law.

Keep in mind that these minors had to arrive in the offending establishments someway — by vehicle. Doesn’t sending a minor off with a bottle or can of send any signals that they may also be drinking and driving?

The clerks and bartenders should be held more accountable.

So should the owners of these establishments. They should remain cognizant of this issue.

The clerks and bartenders should be trained to always ask for an ID.

On Friday, the underage buyers presented their real IDs, so no fake IDs or misrepresentations were involved.

Just laziness, a lackadaisical attitude or a lack of caring.

Establishments that are repeat offenders should lose their licenses to sell alcohol.

That’s the only way it seems that proper attention will be paid to this important issue.

Hit them in their pocketbooks.

Because the mere thought of sending someone’s underage son or daughter out armed with a bottle of alcohol hasn’t rendered any remorse thus far.

The last thing that anyone should want to read — besides the fact that 21 businesses are selling alcohol to our minor children — is that one of those kids was involved in a fatal accident while driving intoxicated, or died as a result of alcohol poisoning.

Would everyone be on board with fighting this crisis then?