ILCC and law enforcement crack down on underage drinking in Champaign-Urbana
Effort focuses on establishments selling to those underage during “Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day”
March 4, 2008
CONTACT: Ted Penesis (email@example.com)
CHAMPAIGNTo ensure University of Illinois students celebrated safely and legally this past weekend, the Illinois Liquor Control Commission (ILCC) mobilized its special agent force in the Champaign-Urbana area to cite liquor establishments who sell alcohol to those under the age of 21 years.
In past years, this weekend—dubbed “Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day”—has been the scene of numerous underage drinking arrests and injuries, including one fatality. With this in mind, the ILCC Legal Division counseled the area's local liquor commissioners on what steps could be legally taken to minimize alcohol-related problems prior to the mobilization. Then, on the weekend of the event, ILCC special agents followed up by working closely with the Illinois State Police, Champaign County Sheriff’s Office, Champaign Police Department, Urbana Police Department, and University of Illinois Police.
During the two-day operation, a total of 30 citations were issued for selling to minors at 18 locations. ILCC agents also found of total of 15 other Liquor Control Act violations by liquor licensees over the weekend. Many of these infractions were Happy Hour Law violations; for example, establishments selling an unlimited number of drinks during a set period of time for a fixed price.
“We have received positive feedback from parents and community members on this operation, who were concerned another tragedy will occur,” says Illinois Department of Revenue Assistant Director Pat Welch, who oversees ILCC’s investigative unit. “Hopefully, the effectiveness of this effort—which can be directly tied to working hand-in-hand with local and state law enforcement—has offered them some comfort and peace of mind.”
Those found selling to minors are subject to arrest, one year in jail, and a $2,500.00 maximum fine. The following establishments were cited for violations of the Liquor Control Act:
- E'llusion's, 207 W. Clark, Champaign.
- Speedway #5141, 2315 W. Springfield, Champaign.
- Blue Star Convenience, 406 S. 1st, Champaign.
- The Phoenix, 215 S. Neil. Champaign.
- Colonial Pantry #5, 21 W. University, Champaign.
- The Office, 214 W. Main, Urbana.
- Super Pantry #6, 2002 N. Lincoln, Urbana.
- Super Pantry #20, 507 W. University, Urbana.
- Vine St. Food Mart, 508 Vine, Urbana.
- Freedom Oil, 501 S. Vine, Urbana.
- Circle K #158, 1809 N. Cunningham, Urbana.
- Speedway #8525, 1605 N. Cunningham, Urbana.
- The Phoenix, 215 S. Neil, Champaign (SECOND OFFENSE).
- Station, 211 E. Green, Champaign (FOUR COUNTS).
- The Clybourne, 706 S. 6th, Champaign (SIX COUNTS).
- The Office, 214 W. Main, Urbana (SECOND OFFENSE).
- Casey General, 2108 E. University, Urbana.
“We appreciated the additional manpower provided by the Liquor Commission and their special agents,” says Sgt. Scott Friedlein of the Champaign Police Department. “Through their support and assistance, we were able to take our compliance operaton to the next level.”
Each of the above cited establishments will have an opportunity to present their case before the ILCC Board of Commissioners and show cause as to why their liquor license should not be fined, suspended, or revoked. “The Liquor Commission has made it a priority to crack down on those who sell to minors,” says ILCC Acting Director Lainie Krozel. “Our goal is to keep alcohol out of the hands of those not old enough to drink. Those liquor establishments who chose to break the law will be held accountable.”
“Underage drinking affects us all. On average, over one hundred teens in Illinois die each year because of drunk driving alone. In addition to the human toll, it is estimated that underage drinking costs Illinois citizens $3 billion a year,” Krozel continued.
To regulate liquor retailers year round, the Liquor Control Commission conducts underage age compliance check where youths are hired to purchase alcohol from retailers. The Liquor Commission has also created the Tracking Alcohol in IL (TrAIL) Program where investigators trace alcohol purchases when underage drinking leads to serious consequences. During its first year, ILCC agents were called in to investigate 28 incidents which resulted in 19 fatalities and 45 injuries.
Additionally, the ILCC has created the Don’t Be Sorry public education campaign to make parents, teens, and liquor retailers aware of the consequences of underage drinking.
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