It’s easy to get a drink in Oregon.
Even if you are a minor.
Just go to a carryout.
You don’t even need a fake i.d.
That’s the disturbing conclusion from June’s underage alcohol sales compliance check conducted by the Oregon Police Department in conjunction with the Oregon Community and Family Coalition.
Six of 15 clerks and waiters sold or served alcohol to an undercover agent during the sting, said Oregon Police Lt. Hank Everitt.
Two of the locations, Circle K on Wheeling and the Clark station on Woodville, were also cited in the first compliance sting held in March.
The ease of which minors can purchase alcohol in the city may be one of the factors leading to a substance abuse rate that is higher than the average for both Lucas County and the nation, according to Tana Schiewer, director of the family coalition. She cites a 2006 survey conducted by the Mental Health Recovery Services Board of Lucas County that concluded within the prior 30 days before the survey 54.8 high school seniors in Oregon drank alcohol compared to 51.4 percent in Lucas County and 45.3 percent nationally.
She said most minors who abuse alcohol get it from older siblings or friends. The surprise, however, to both Schiewer and Lt. Everitt, was how easy an underage volunteer could purchase alcohol in the city just by showing the distinctive Ohio drivers license issued to those under 21, the legal drinking age. This license is vertical and specified in large letters the date the holder becomes of legal age. The license for those over 21 is horizontal, so the vertical license eliminates the need for clerks and waitresses to use math to determine age.
In the last sting, two female volunteers, both 19, tried to purchase alcohol at eight carry outs, three grocery stores, three restaurants and a tavern. They were instructed to provide legitimate identification if asked and if the clerk refused to ring up the sale, they were told to not make any further efforts to change the minds of the sellers.
The six establishments that sold alcohol were: Third Base Carryout, 3554 Navarre; Circle K, 401 So. Wheeling; Clark Station, 2062 Woodville; Barney’s BP, 3369 Navarre; Sunoco Food Mart, 1855 Woodville and El Camino, 2072 Woodville.
The clerks ranged in age from a 21-year-old male to a 58-year-old female. Interestingly, the three males cited were in their 20s and the three females cited were over 44. All were charged with a First Degree Misdemeanor and subject to a fine of up to $1,000 and six months in jail. One woman, 44, from East Toledo, sold alcohol to minors from both the Clark Station and the Circle K. She was found guilty of the first incident in Oregon Municipal Court and assessed fines and court costs of $136. The second incident is still working its way through the court system.
Those establishments whose employees refused to sell to the undercover agents were: Kroger, 3301 Navarre; Corduroy Carry Out, 5781 Corduroy; Marathon Fuel Mart, 5805 Navarre; Kroger, 1920 Woodville; Rosebuds Tavern, 2246 Navarre; Navarre Carryout, 3158 Navarre; Meijer, 1725 So. Wheeling; Ralphie’s, 3005 Navarre and Buffalo Wild Wings, 3555 Navarre.
The compliance program is scheduled to run for five years and is funded through a federal grant. If the offending establishment incurs multiple violations, Lt. Everitt will file reports with the Investigative Unit of the Ohio Department of Public Safety. Penalties, which would be assessed by the Ohio Liquor Control Commission, could range from a fine or suspension or revocation of the liquor license.
Lt. Everitt hopes the periodic stings will encourage store and restaurant owners to better train their clerks. He applauds one conscientious clerk at Corduroy Carry Out who took the license from the undercover volunteer and called 911. He would like to see more clerks do this, both to protect the minor and those of us who share the road with a minor who may drink and drive.