King County Sheriff’s deputies are readying for a round of annual liquor patrols, starting in August and continuing over the next few months.
North Bend Police Chief Mark Toner reports that deputies have started notifying local sales points, reminding them of the rules and ways that they can avoid illegal sales to minors. Random stings using teenage ‘agents’ will follow, putting vendors to the test.
All sales clerks in the Valley try to do a good job, says Toner. “But kids are telling me that they’re able to buy beer and spirits at different spots,” he said. Furnishing a minor with liquor is a gross misdemeanor that carries a penalty of up to 364 days in jail and a $5,000 fine.
“Another concern that is often overlooked is jobs — we realize that if a clerk gets caught making an illegal sale, they are likely to be fired,” Toner told the Record. “This is not the time for putting people out of work, and this is a key reason as to why we are doing our educational visits to the businesses prior to the patrol.”
Historically, deputies see spikes in liquor sales just before school gets out, in late summer, and in October and November. Last weekend, a deputy arrested and booked a woman for allowing her home to be used by juveniles to have an alcohol party.
In the last set of business checks, in 2011, “we had only a few sales and received very positive feedback from the stores, the schools, and the public,” Toner stated. “There is no way to determine how many accidents didn’t happen due to our efforts, but every one that was avoided may have been one or more life saved.” The goal behind the warnings and checks is to achieve 100 percent compliance, making the community safer for all. “I hope kids say there’s no place to buy a drink in this town,” said Toner.