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Alcohol Age Compliance Checks (AACC)

Minimum legal drinking age compliance checks reduce underage drinking.

What are Compliance Checks?

Alcohol Age Compliance Checks – also known as Minimum Legal Drinking Age Compliance Checks – are law enforcement operations where an underage young adult, aged 18‐20 works with a law enforcement agency by attempting to purchase alcohol using their own ID or without any ID. If the youth completes an alcohol purchase, the law enforcement agency issues a citation to the individual (clerk, cashier, bartender, server, waiter) who sold the alcohol. The compliance check is not a “sting” since retailers are notified in advance in writing of when the check will occur. Compliance checks should be performed every six months at both on‐premises (e.g., restaurants, bars, taverns, movie theaters, etc.) and off-premises retail alcohol businesses (e.g., supermarkets, groceries, liquor stores, convenience stores, gas stations, etc.). Businesses that pass can get positive publicity, while businesses that fail should try to improve their practices.

Why Perform Compliance Checks?

Compliance checks work. When regularly performed at least every six months, they are an effective method to prevent alcohol sales to underage people.

Compliance checks may reduce problems associated with underage drinking including violence, vandalism, injury, teen pregnancy, and sexually transmitted disease. Adolescent alcohol use can cause brain damage, cancer, drownings, falls, burns, and unintended shootings. Underage drinking is also a significant factor in sexual assaults, gun violence, homicide suicide, and the development of other substance use disorders.

Compliance checks can be easy once organized. Establishing semi-annual checks takes work; but once organized, the operations are effective and relatively easy.

Selling alcohol to anyone under age 21 is illegal under most circumstances. Wisconsin's rate of underage drinking remains above the national average. (There is an exception for when a person is accompanied by their parent, guardian or spouse aged 21 or over.)

Well-publicized compliance checks send a strong message that providing alcohol to underage people is not acceptable. In addition to influencing behaviors of licensees, they can influence the attitudes of parents and others within the community, making underage drinking less acceptable and less normalized.

Wisconsin Alcohol Age Compliance Checks

WisAPP is working on creating a Wisconsin manual for Alcohol Age Compliance Checks. In the meantime, for more information, the summary below outlines the procedure for these checks. A frequently used protocol is the Minnesota Alcohol Epidemiology Program Alcohol Compliance Checks Manual (DOCX). Some aspects of the Minnesota manual conflict with Wisconsin law; involvement of local law enforcement will help identify those conflicts.

Operating Alcohol Age Compliance Checks in Wisconsin (PDF)