LA CROSSE COUNTY, Wis. (LA CROSSE COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT PRESS RELEASE) – The City of La Crosse Police Department, La Crosse County Health Department, and Alliance to HEAL are working in collaboration to conduct alcohol compliance checks.

“Just like tobacco, underage alcohol consumption is a persistent and serious public health challenge”, said Judi Zabel, Health Educator. “Preventing youth access to alcohol is part of a comprehensive community approach to preventing and delaying youth initiation of alcohol that includes efforts to reduce access to alcohol from family and peers, influencing community customs and increasing youth resiliency skills. ”In La Crosse County 1 in 5 high school students have had an alcoholic drink in the past 30 days. That number increases to 1 in 3.7 by the time the student reaches 12th grade.

Enforcing the laws against selling alcohol to youth on a regular basis is similar to speed enforcement zones near schools—over time people get lax about limits and laws unless enforcement activities occur. That is why City of La Crosse Police will be conducting alcohol age compliance checks where underage young adults aged 18 – 20 years attempt to purchase alcohol using their own ID or without an ID. If the youth complete an alcohol purchase, the City of La Crosse Police will issue a citation to the clerk, cashier, bartender, server, or waiter who sold the alcohol. Retailers are notified in advance in writing of when the check will occur. Minimum legal drinking age compliance checks should be performed every six months at both on-premises (restaurants, bars, taverns, and movie theaters) and off-premises retail alcohol businesses (big box stores, groceries, liquor stores, convenience stores and gas stations).

The partnership also strives to help retailers avoid fines. Recently, two City of La Crosse police officers were trained to conduct Tips Training, Wisconsin’s approved alcohol seller/server training. Currently alcohol retail staff can take an on-line, 5-hour course, but learning face-to-face from law enforcement bolsters the trainee’s confidence and ability to read an ID properly or refuse making a sale.

Together, we can decrease youth access to alcohol products and help retailers and their staff avoid fines.