176 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015 | BETHESDAMAGAZINE.COM
that occur all the time. “We don’t like to
call them stings,” Compliance Manager
Ron Price says. “I don’t believe licensees
intentionally try to break the law. They
just drop their guard and make mistakes.”
This is the DLC’s first night at work
in Bethesda in about two years. The first
night usually means more violations, Williams says, then news gets out and managers crack down. “I know when I bartended in Bethesda, we’d spread the word:
‘They’re down the street!’ It was like the
best phone tree ever,” says Kathie Durbin,
chief of licensure, regulation and education for the DLC, who spent 20 years
working in Bethesda’s restaurant scene.
In the fiscal year ending June 30, 2014,
the county’s licensees had an 81 percent
compliance rate with underage serving
laws, about as good as the DLC can expect
to get, Durbin says. Of the 400 licensees
visited, 77 sold to a minor. At the DLC’s
12 liquor stores, three sold to a minor, a 75
percent compliance rate. What that rate
will look like in 2015 depends on what
happens on nights like this.
UV 16-04 TAKES HER seat in the
back of a squad car with Walburn at the
wheel and Williams beside him. “It’s fun
to be in a cop car and not be arrested,”
Laura says. That’s a pseudonym—DLC
officials do not want her real name pub-
lished. Laura is in her second year at
Towson University, where she’s study-
ing criminal justice, and although she’s
not sure what she wants to do after she
graduates, she believes that going under-
cover with law enforcement will help her
along the way.
Tonight, the team is at Westfield Montgomery mall. Other nights, the trio might
be in downtown Bethesda, Silver Spring
or Germantown. “I’ll tell you what’s here,”
Williams says, rattling off a list of 10
licensees to check as Walburn parks the
car. The mall was renovated last year and
now includes more sit-down restaurants,
food court vendors that sell alcohol, and
a movie theater with a lobby bar.
So far, it’s been an uneventful eve-
ning. Laura ordered wine at a Ledo Pizza
nearby, but a server asked for her ID,
and the computer system flagged her as
underage. Lots of restaurants use com-
puters now, Williams says. Servers swipe
the ID or enter the customer’s date of
birth, and the computer tells them if the
customer is too young to drink. “That’s
OK,” Laura told the Ledo waiter. “I’ll just
go somewhere else.”
A computer shouldn’t be needed to
catch an underage drinker. A Maryland
driver’s license makes it easy to spot a
minor. Licenses for minors are vertical,
not horizontal. That’s the first clue. The
second: Minors’ photos are boxed in red,
with the words “UNDER 21 ALCOHOL
RESTRIC TED” beneath.
The bottom of the card shows the
day a minor turns 18, old enough to buy
tobacco products, and 21, old enough to
purchase alcohol. Laura’s reads: “Under
21 Until 09-30-2016.” That’s clue No. 3.
But that isn’t always enough. Sometimes
servers ask for IDs but don’t bother to
At a beer and wine store near the mall,
Laura asks the manager for a small bottle of red moscato. The county pays for
anything she purchases, so she tries to
keep costs down. Manager Pushp Shah
points to a different bottle on the shelf.
“This one’s better,” he tells her.
She carries the bottle to the counter,
and Shah takes his place at the cash register and asks to see her ID. Laura hands
him her driver’s license. “I can’t sell to
you with this ID,” Shah says. He shakes
his head as she walks out the door.
Every day, Shah says, he writes down
the legal birthdate for buying alcohol.
He places one reminder on the counter,
another above the computer, and a third
on the credit card machine. “I never want
to get fined,” he says.
For licensees caught serving a minor,
a first offense usually results in a $1,000
fine; a second offense can cost $2,500. A
third offense means a mandatory appearance before the Board of License Commissioners, which by state law may result
in fines up to $20,000 and a suspended
Waiters and waitresses are also held
responsible. A server with no criminal
First and Third Monday of every month.
If a holiday falls on a Monday,
ALERT class will be held Tuesday.
201 Edison Park Drive
Gaithersburg, MD 20878
If you weren't born on or
before TODAY'S DATE in
then you CAN'T buy ALCOHOL!
You must be 21 to purchase alcohol.
If you weren't born on or
then you CAN'T buy TOBACCO!
You must be 18 to purchase tobacco products.
; ALWAYS ask for an ID
; NEVER accept an expired ID card
; READ AND LOOK at the photo on the ID
; VERTICAL IDs are issued to minors under 21
; A VERTICAL ID should be a RED FLAG! Stop,
re-look and ask questons
; ACCEPTABLE forms of ID:
• State Issued Drivers License
• State Issued MVA ID card
• Military ID
• Immigration Card
A tear-off section at the bottom of a Department of Liquor
Control calendar helps servers determine if a customer
is old enough to buy alcohol. The tear-off, which many
establishments keep close to the cash register, has Laura’s
ID on it, with the name changed.