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State and local authorities license alcohol wholesalers and retailers and make decisions about where alcohol sales may be permitted, hours of operation, among other issues related to alcohol sales.

They also enforce underage drinking laws, including by conducting retail compliance checks and responding to underage drinking parties.

  • Enhanced retail enforcement programs are effective in reducing sales of alcohol to minors. The Underage Drinking Enforcement Training Center (“UDETC”), funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, publishes guides for law enforcement on how to conduct alcohol compliance checks  and alcohol purchase surveys. What’s the difference between these two compliance approaches? In an alcohol compliance check, a person under 21 is sent into a retail outlet to try to buy alcohol. In some states, however, alcohol compliance checks are not legal, even under the supervision of law enforcement, due to laws regarding underage alcohol possession and purchase. In an alcohol purchase survey, a youthful looking adult is sent into a store, bar, or restaurant to see if the retailer will ask for identification before making a sale. 
  • Despite prevention efforts, underage drinking parties do occur. UDETC provides information for law enforcement on how to conduct a controlled dispersal plan to safely and efficiently close an underage drinking party.