Businesses fail liquor, tobacco compliance checks

By Melissa Mastrogiovanni

A public hearing was rescheduled to March 19 to determine if Lord Stanley’s Class A Liquor License should be revoked, suspended or if the licensee should be fined, according to a notice of hearing and charges.

According to Feb. 13 Northern Star blotter entries, DeKalb police conducted alcohol compliance checks on Feb. 11 at local bars. Daisy’s Sports Bar and Grill, Starbusters Sports Bar and Nightclub and Lord Stanley’s all failed these compliance checks.

The fines for liquor violations vary between $750 to $1,000 for first time offences, said Kris Povlsen, DeKalb Mayor and Liquor Commissioner. Usually, businesses who fail alcohol compliance checks are encouraged to pay the fine and settle out of a judicial hearing, Povlsen said. However, if a business contests the fine, there is a hearing before the Liquor Commission.

The DeKalb Police Department has regular patrol officers who do identification checks and cite underage drinkers, said DeKalb Police Lt. Carl Leoni. If a driver’s license is determined to be a fake, the bartender and/or bouncer receive citations as well.

Officers sometimes use underage volunteers between ages 18 to 19 to participate in compliance checks, Leoni said. The underage volunteers use their own identification, are not allowed to lie about their age and must present their IDs if asked. The volunteers aren’t determined based on if they look older or younger for their age, Leoni said. The volunteers typically look their age.

“We’re not trying to sucker anybody in,” Leoni said.

If businesses continue to have a series of violations or have a serious violation, then the violation can be taken before the Liquor Commission, Leoni said.

Liquor establishments aren’t the only ones who receive compliance checks.

On Feb. 15, nine businesses failed tobacco compliance checks by selling cigarettes to minors.

DeKalb receives a grant from the Illinois Liquor Commission’s ‘Kids Can’t Buy Em Here’ Tobacco Enforcement Program to perform tobacco compliance checks, Leoni said.

Each year, DeKalb receives about $2,800 to $3,000 and as a stipulation in receiving the grant, DeKalb police must perform at least three compliance checks a year, Leoni said. Businesses that sell tobacco are given an information packet at the beginning of the year and are told that the police will be performing compliance checks throughout the year.

The volunteers are usually officers’ children or their friends, Leoni said. There is also a volunteer program at DeKalb High School. If a business has an employee sell tobacco to a minor, the employee gets cited.

“Generally, we don’t go after the business itself unless there are multiple violations,” Leoni said.

To apply for a liquor or tobacco license, the business must pay a fee, said City Manager Mark Biernacki.

The fees vary depending on the type of license. However, the fees are not a “money-maker” for DeKalb, Biernacki said. The fees help offset the costs of performing background checks on a business and determining if a business is financially stable.

“We take those laws very seriously,” Biernacki said. “To make sure people follow them, the city has to take measures to deter violations.”