174 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015 | BETHESDAMAGAZINE.COM
A YOUNG WOMAN in skinny jeans
and a black T-shirt walks into a dimly
lit restaurant bar alone. “Party of two,”
she says. It would seem suspicious, she
thinks, to look like she’s drinking by herself on a Wednesday evening. She has on
little makeup and dark-framed glasses.
Her black hair hangs long and straight.
The hostess leads her to a two-top
banquette near the bar and she takes
her seat. It’s dinnertime, but the res-
taurant inside Westfield Montgomery
mall in Bethesda is nearly empty. When
the waitress arrives, the young woman
orders a glass of merlot.
“You look awfully young,” the waitress
tells her. “You look my age.”
The waitress asks for her identifica-
tion, and she hands over her Maryland
driver’s license. The young woman’s ID,
her real one, says it all: She was born on
Sept. 30, 1995; she doesn’t turn 21 until
2016. The waitress studies the license,
hands it back and walks away.
Outside the restaurant, Brian Wal-
burn, a plainclothes Montgomery County
police officer, and Lee Williams, an alco-
hol and tobacco enforcement specialist for
the county’s Department of Liquor Con-
trol (DLC), hope to avoid attracting atten-
tion as they wait to hear from the young
woman. Williams compulsively checks the
text messages on his phone like an anx-
ious father. Nothing. Inside, the 19-year-
old woman, officially referred to as “UV
16-04,” waits to see if she’ll get her wine.
IN MONTGOMERY COUNTY,
teams like this—a liquor control official,
a cop and an underage volunteer—go out
two or three times a month to see if liquor
licensees are serving minors. They try