Local News

Alcohol Compliance Checks Bring Disappointing Results

Mar 24, 2016

On Friday March 18 Omak and Oroville Police Departments and Okanogan County Community Coalition conducted alcohol compliance checks in Omak and Oroville. A total of 15 businesses were checked for alcohol sales law compliance, 6 in Oroville and 9 in Omak.  Eleven of the businesses successfully refused to sell to Omak Police Department’s underage youth operative. Those include from Oroville: Frontier Foods, Pastime Bar and Grill, Quick Mart, Muchos Humo Sigue, and American Legion; businesses successfully passing the alcohol compliance check in Omak/Okanogan included: Safeway, Omak Travel Plaza, Shorthorn Tavern, Omak Chevron, Okanogan Chevron , and The Club.

Employees of Stampede Mini Market, Valley Lanes, and Omache Texaco in Omak and Trinos Mexican Restaurant in Oroville were cited by police for furnishing alcohol to a minor, which is a gross misdemeanor and punishable up to a year in jail and a $5000 fine. The violations will also be reported to the Washington State Liquor Cannabis Board who will determine what kind of administrative action will be taken against the business owners.  Administrative actions include fines, 5 to 30 days license suspensions, or both. Repeat violations can result in a liquor license being revoked.

According to Andi Ervin, Executive Director Okanogan County Community Coalition more businesses sold during this round of compliance checks than anytime since their coalition began tracking compliance rates in 2011. She went on to say: “Our compliance rate went down to just over 70% compliance. Upon review of recent alcohol compliance checks in Okanogan County, we were disappointed to discover that Liquor Cannabis Board only completed 29 compliance checks in the entire county in 2015 – of those, only 4 were in Omak during the entire year. This means that most of the alcohol retailers in Omak were not checked a single time in 2015. In 2013, 80 checks were completed (61 of those were funded and implemented by Washington State Liquor Cannabis Board and 19 by us). It is not a leap to conclude that recreational marijuana is impeding the Liquor Cannabis Board’s ability to simultaneously monitor and regulate both alcohol and marijuana.” Currently there are 66 active marijuana licenses in Okanogan County – 63 of those licenses are for growing marijuana. There are another 59 licenses pending approval for Okanogan County at this time. Only 5 enforcement officers were added to Liquor Cannabis Board for all of Washington state, despite nearly doubling the number of businesses they monitor and regulate.

Research on alcohol compliance checks indicates that alcohol compliance checks performed frequently and with recognition for those who were successful dramatically reduces the number of alcohol sales to minors. Ervin says “Until Liquor Cannabis Board either admits they are in over their head – or the State authorizes adequate personnel to get the job done, local communities will have to do their best to compensate. Okanogan County Community Coalition will continue to use local coalition funds during 2016 to conduct alcohol and marijuana compliance checks using local underage youth operatives and local police departments to ensure that our community’s needs are being met and to work to decrease access to alcohol and marijuana by minors.”

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