Underage drinking, false IDs discussed at local workshop

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 23, 2003

It's simple: No sale, No ID, No way.

Don't even think about purchasing liquor unless you were born before 1982.

Try fooling Austin bartenders now, underage drinkers.

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They are armed with education and awareness.

That's the message city and state officials and local bar-owners are spreading.

Two liquor compliance workshops were held Wednesday at Austin Public Library.

Bar owners and bartenders and other staff attended 2 1/2 hours of education and awareness.

Brian Kringen, liaison officer for the Minnesota Department of Public Safety's alcohol and gambling enforcement division, was the instructor.

Participants learned about effective identification of minors.

The workshops were offered free of charge by sponsors, including the city of Austin, Mower County Chemical Health Coalition and Austin Beverage Association.

Austin Mayor Bonnie Rietz was disappointed when 13 of the 20 businesses, selling alcohol, failed the last compliance check. With the support of 1st Ward council member Mickey Jorgenson, the education and awareness workshops were planned.

The mayor made it clear.

"We must work together to see that the young people in our community are better protected," she said after the 43 percent failure rate in the last liquor compliance checks.

Kirsten Lindbloom, coordinator for the Mower County Chemical Health Coalition, welcomed the 28 participants to the Wednesday afternoon session and Kringen went to work.

"I don't want you going out of business and losing your jobs," he told the representatives of local bars. "We want you to succeed. We are there for you."

In attempting to assure the bar representatives, the DPS liquor compliance checks are not designed to be adversarial to the

beverage industry in Minnesota, Kringen said.

"We are not prohibitionists," he said.

He also predicted the Minnesota Legislature will make liquor compliance mandatory as it has done with tobacco compliance.

Kringen said surveys show a growing number of America's teenagers are experimenting with alcohol at younger ages.

"Ten percent of all the alcohol sold is consumed by minors," he said.

However, the DPS agent also admitted most of the liquor consumed by juveniles comes from their own homes, parents, other relatives and older friends, not bars.

Kringen sped through a lengthy presentation, that focused on recognizing false IDs in the second half of the 2 1/2-hour-long workshop.

Among those impressed by what Kringen had to teach them Wednesday were Bruce Hovland and Mike Sawyer.

Hovland owns Sportt's Restaurant, which is a supporter of youth sports and high school and college athletics.

"It 'the training' makes us smarter," Hovland said. "This is excellent. I like the whole idea of education and awareness."

Sawyer, representing Paradise Island (formerly Hey Rube), also liked the training session.

"I think it's very good," he said. "I didn't know all there is about the law before coming here and this training should make it easier to enforce the law."

Lee Bonorden can be contacted at 434-2232 or by e-mail at lee.bonorden@austindailyherald.com