Compliance Checks Find La Crosse Bars Need Improvement

The La Crosse Police Department says it's time for local bars to shape up. Police say five bars failed last weeks compliance checks by serving alcohol to minors.

Police have been conducting compliance checks since 2005, but have found local bars, restaurants and retailers are still serving the underage. So, they're planning to do more checks.

"We plan to do them pretty regularly throughout the year so it's not going to be something where we just to them at a specific time and then we stop, because we're finding that the more consistently we do it, the better our success ratios are going to be in having businesses pass," La Crosse Police Sergeant Jason Melby said.

Melby says police officers want checks to be fair so they hire young people, who appear clearly underage, to attempt to buy alcohol using their real ID.

Melby says in the past police have even sent bars letters, warning them of an upcoming check.

Bar owner Chad Longway supports the checks, and says though his bar was one of the five ticketed last week, no bar owner wants to serve someone underage.

"Unfortunately when the day is said and done you can't foresee human error, so unfortunately it was my mother at Pastimes that got the ticket for serving the underage individual, because she just did the wrong math and assumed he was older," Longway said.

He says all Pastimes' employees are trained to recognize a fake ID, and to look for signs a person is underage, but sometimes human error just can't be avoided.

So, he's looking to purchase a new computer system that scans Id's, giving his bartenders and servers an extra tool to help spot the underage.

And police are lending a hand too. In LaCrosse, the department will train bartenders for free, and have already worked with 400 of them.

Still, Melby says failing a compliance check can be costly, officers issue two citations, one to the liquor license holder and the other to the server. Each will cost you 285 dollars.


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