As police continue to apply pressure to the problem of underage drinking, availability through illegal sales continues to be a systemic problem. Last week police officials in nearby Martinsburg, WV released the results of an alcohol compliance check of twenty-one different establishments within their district to see if they would sell alcohol to underage customers. Out of the twenty-one checked, fourteen sold alcohol to underage customers. A full two-thirds of the businesses were cited for violation of the law. Clerks who sold alcohol to minors were cited for Unlawful Sale of Alcohol by Alcoholic Liquor Licensee, a violation of Martinsburg Municipal code 521.04(d)(1)A. If convicted, persons found guilty are subject to a fine not more than $500, or imprisonment not more than 30 days or both. The alcohol compliance checks were paid for by the United Way through a substance abuse grant.
A similar compliance check was conducted in Clarke County in April. The two-week long undercover operation targeted local merchants throughout the county found that 50% were willing to provide underage buyers with alcohol. This percentage mirrored similar findings by police in Western Loudoun that conducted another operation in February that cited five of nine establishments checked in Purcellville and Lovettsville.
While police diligence in this operation is to be applauded, the high percentage of businesses willing to sell alcohol to underage customers underscores the ongoing problem. Martinsburg is further away than establishments checked in other operations, but it has one of the largest movie theaters in the area and consistently draws movie goers of all ages. That draw combined with a flagrant disregard for alcohol laws by businesses, poses a real threat to a large geographic area well beyond Martinsburg.
The list of businesses checked and the results of the check for each is listed below.
- Peppers News Stand (200 block of N. Queen St.)- Sherry Nalley
- Lupitas- (100 block of N. Queen St.)- Guadalupe Bustillos
- Berkeley News (100 block of N. Queen St.)- Donna-Sue Prahl
- Martins Grocery (900 Foxcroft Ave)- Phyllis Coleman
- Rocs (900 block Winchester Ave)- Melissa Myers
- 7-11 Store (King/Winchester Ave)- Norma Smith
- 7-11 Store (900 block of N. Queen St.)- Charmone Myers
- 7-11 Store (Moler Ave.) – Frances Breen
- Crown Gas (Edwin Miller Blvd)- Radha Krishna Vavilala
- Rite Aid (600 block of Winchester Ave)- Waunita Bennett
- Crowell’s (700 block of N. Queen St.)- Betty Lehmaster
- Bob’s Carry Out (100 block of N. Raleigh St)- Mary Herr
- Walgreens Pharmacy (Edwin Miller Blvd)- Justin Conner
- Food Lion (Old Courthouse Square)- Jessica Coulson
- Rocs (Foxcroft Ave)
- Crown Gas (1100 block N. Queen St.)
- Weis Grocery (1000 block of N. Queen St.)
- CVS (Edwin Miller Blvd)
- Caribbean Market (300 block N. High St.)
- Wal-Mart (800 Foxcroft Ave)
- Sheetz (1600 block of W. King St.)