Police: One site sold to minor

FAIRMONT — Police say one Fairmont business failed an alcohol compliance check conducted by Fairmont police during October.

Police say a Freedom Valu Center, 407 E. Blue Earth Ave., employee was caught selling alcohol to an underage buyer, and referred to the Martin County Attorney’s Office for prosecution.

“While one failure is still one too many, we must keep in mind that a vast majority of businesses did an excellent job by refusing to sell to underage buyers during the checks,” said Fairmont Police Det. Eric Tonder, who has coordinated and supervised the compliance checks for the department since 2001. “In past years, we have seen 100 percent compliance, which is always our goal.

“We are confident that alcohol compliance checks are a positive tool in deterring underage alcohol sales through consistent enforcement and education of alcohol sales laws.”

Businesses licensed to sell alcohol include convenience stores, bars, restaurants and the municipal liquor store.

The compliance checks are conducted by adults younger than 21 under the direct supervision of a plain clothes police officer.

The sale of alcohol to a person younger than 21 is a gross misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of up to one year in jail and a $3,000 fine.

The violation at Freedom Valu Center also has been referred to the liquor licensing authority, namely the City Council, for administrative sanctions against the business’ liquor license holder for allegedly failing to comply with state alcohol laws. The council can impose a fine of up to $2,000 and suspend the license or permit for up to 60 days for each violation, or impose a combination of sanctions.

The police department says it will continue to conduct compliance checks on an annual basis to reduce the sale of alcohol to underage person. The department asks that patrons of area businesses understand the importance of having their IDs checked to verify their age when purchasing alcohol or tobacco. Police say employees of these businesses are doing their job and promoting responsible sales to their customers and the community when verifying sales.

Police note that they have sponsored free training for area businesses and their employees on alcohol sales laws and properly checking IDs. They also say Fairmont businesses were made aware that compliance checks would be conducted by police.