ATC agents crack down on businesses selling alcohol to minors - WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

ATC agents crack down on businesses selling alcohol to minors

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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) -

With kids out of school for the summer, the chances of teens getting their hands on alcohol, rises. ATC agents are taking an aggressive approach to monitoring local businesses.

Walking into Martin Wine Cellar on Magazine Street, the two teenage girls working undercover, were on a mission. Their goal...to see if they could buy some alcohol.

Martin Wine Cellar passed the test. The girls were carded and then denied. Manager Jonathan Morgan says, "Following the law is one of the critical tasks that we do around here. Everybody is trained, follows the procedures and we make sure everybody is checked."

Next stop for the two, Tracey's Bar. Owner Jeff Carreras admits, it can be difficult on a busy night to remember to check for ID's but it's something he's constantly stressing to his staff. "It's kinda hard to get through to people like that and you always tell them hey, check the ID no matter what," Carreras explained.

The teens were once again denied, so the bartender who waited on the girls was awarded with a certificate from an ATC agent. It's considered positive re-enforcement because getting caught serving alcohol to a minor can result in severe consequences.

ATC Special Agent in Charge Jeff Barthelemy says, "It's a $500 fine for a first offense and $1,000 for a second offense."

Business owners and individual employees can be fined plus employees names may be added to the ATC's website.

"Businesses can use that website to decide on who they want to hire," explained Barthelemy.

ATC agents ramp up their undercover work just as school begins to let out. But as Jeff Carreras explains, teens aren't the only ones he and his staff have to be on the lookout for. "Obviously everybody's off of school and you always catch the underage drinkers trying to come in or the person that's older trying to come in and buy alcohol for the younger kids," said Carreras.

Bottom line...Agent Barthelemy says this crackdown is about more than stopping businesses from selling to minors. He and his agents are trying to look out for young people. "Sometimes they make bad decisions when they drink and they get involved in accidents and crashes and it can just affect their life forever," said Barthelemy.

Last summer, ATC agents conducted 3,000 compliance checks throughout the state. They're expected to surpass that number this year.

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