Strategies to Prevent Underage Drinking in Bars, Nightclubs, and Taverns

Alcohol use by underage individuals is classified as a persistent public health problem in the United States, according to the according to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Alcohol is the most widely utilized drug by teenagers across the country at this juncture in time.

Underage individuals access alcohol illegally in a number of different ways. This includes employing tactics like using a fake identification card to purchase alcohol in public establishments like bars, nightclubs, and taverns. Not only can the purchase of alcohol by an underage person be detrimental specifically to that individual, the sale at a retail establishment can have dire consequences for a bar, nightclub, or tavern. There are some specific strategies that a public establishment needs to consider employing to guard against serving alcohol to underage individuals.


Confiscate Fake IDs at the Door

A key to taking a firm stand and preventing underage drinking at an establishment is to establish a strong perimeter. In other words, a bar, nightclub, or tavern should strive to have a no-nonsense entry policy, complete with a bouncer or similar type of personnel at the door during peak hours of operation.

Maintaining door personnel during all hours generally is not practical for an establishment. Indeed, some establishments lack the personnel and the financial wherewithal to staff entryways continuously during even peak hours. Nonetheless, ideally this protocol is put in place.

As part of enforcing a strong perimeter, a retail drinking establishment should create a policy where a fake ID is seized when presented at the door. The laws in all states either permit, or even require, the seizure. In reality, when a fake ID is identified at the door, most establishments refuse admission but return the identification card to the presenter.

Seizing IDs at the door sends a strong message that a venue does not tolerate underage drinking. Practically speaking, an underage drinker is not going to want to risk losing a fake ID at the door to a retail establishment. This typically results in a reduction of the number of underage individuals who will seek admission to a drinking establishment in the first instance.


Implement a Wrist Band System

Related to setting up a strong perimeter is initiating a wrist band system at the door to the establishment. Of course, a wrist band system isn’t wholly foolproof. However, it does provide another line of protection against an underage person being able to access alcohol.

There are wristbands that are not easily detached and placed on another individual. As an alternative to actual wristbands, you can elect to use a system in which a patron of drinking age is marked with an appropriate florescent stamp on his or her hand.


Utilize ID Scanning Machines

Take advantage of technology when it comes to protecting against underage drinking in a bar, nightclub, or tavern. Today’s generation of ID scanning machines provide two important functionalities when it comes to underage drinking.

First, these machines are solid when it comes to identifying fake IDs. Second, these machines record admission of people with valid IDs into the premises. This functionality prevents the sharing or IDs between an adult patron and one who is underage.


Double Check IDs

In addition to checking IDs at the entrance to an establishment, a secondary check should occur at any bar or serving area in a bar, nightclub, or tavern. This includes wait staff checking IDs at tables and bartenders checking IDs at bar serving areas.

As an aside, a trick used to glean cocktails and other alcoholic beverages for underage drinkers is to have an adult purchase multiple drinks from a serving area at a bar. When a patron seeks multiple alcoholic beverages, the practice should be to not only view that individual’s ID, but the IDs for all individuals from whom the person is making a purchase. This does not have to be done with each order by a particular group, but at least with the initial purchase.


Provide Non-Alcoholic Beverages

If an establishment allows the admission of underage people, provided they are not served alcohol, ensuring access to non-alcoholic beverages of different types is important. Some establishments “jack up” the costs associated with non-alcoholic beverages in order to increase the revenue flow. In fact, a bar, nightclub, or tavern should consider pricing non-alcoholic beverages reasonably or even cheaply. Failing to do so in some cases leaves an underage patron thinking why not try and snag an alcoholic beverage when a non-alcoholic alternative costs nearly as much.


Jessica Kane writes for TIPS Alcohol Training, offering TIPS responsible alcohol service training online for both on and off premise needs.  





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