If you work in a bar or restaurant that serves alcohol, look out: ABC is constantly on the prowl for those selling to minors. Carl Kirkland, director of enforcement with the Alcoholic Beverage Control of Arkansas, said he asks his agents to do at least one underage-sales sting in every alcohol-selling establishment in the state per year.
In 2009 and 2010, ABC Enforcement performed 5,049 compliance checks in Arkansas, and wrote 561 tickets to bartenders, waiters and waitresses who served drinks to youthful imbibers. Kirkland said that depending on the county, those who are nabbed in the stings are either issued a citation and released, or taken to the county jail and processed there. Offenders must appear in court, and before the ABC board. Fines vary from county to county, but routinely go over $300 per violation.
Kirkland said the underage buyers for the stings are recruited in a number of ways. "Believe it or not, I get a lot of calls from concerned parents, where the kids are buying and they want to see something done," he said. "We'll try to go out and recruit school kids, starting at age 17 up. We have a lot of police officers' kids ... We use just regular teen-age kids from schools or church groups. We work a lot with the community." Kirkland said that undercover buyers often wear a hidden body mic or hidden camera to record the sale, and are paid $10 an hour. Problem establishments often get a return visit.
"If we've got a problem place, we're going to hit that a little bit more," Kirkland said. "If we run a sting and they sell, and two months later we get a report from a concerned parent or something saying this place is still selling, my kid is still buying there, we'll run another sting."