Undercover and underage: Department of Revenue shows regular compliance checks paying off

Undercover underage checks show compliance

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Have you ever wondered what an undercover operation looks like?

Department of Revenue agents across Georgia and in the Coastal Empire have minors who are helping them crackdown on businesses selling alcohol to people who are underage.

This is how a majority of alcohol enforcement undercover operations end:

“'I don’t have it on me.' ‘I can’t sell you that if you don’t have an I-D.’ ‘Alright.’”

It’s a three-person undercover team. One adult agent goes in first. When signaled by the adult agent staying in the car, the underage agent will get out and try to go buy an alcoholic beverage.

"Check it out, man. We are going to go give it a shot. If you get in there and you feel uncomfortable, just walk out and I'll walk out right with you. I always have eyes on you. Alright, it's all about your safety. You good?"

Special agents tell WTOC it’s important that their underage agent always feels safe and does not lie in any way. Giving the wrong birthday or handing a fake ID to the cashier is considered entrapment and is illegal.

The agent who stays behind in the car logs the report, keeps track of when the agents go in and come out and writes down a description of who the cashier was.

Wednesday’s operations ended with no buys. All 14 Pooler businesses checked were compliant.

“Businesses and owners can feel proud that their employees are doing what they should by following the policies not selling to minors and verifying the ages.” Special Agent Andrew Williams said.

Not all operations run this smoothly. The Savannah regional office for the Department of Revenue handles 36 counties. So far this year, they’ve worked 927 underage compliance checks and 40 were non-compliant. That’s only 4 percent of failures. Of those, Special Agent Williams says businesses use it as a learning opportunity.

“It makes me feel great especially ones that I went to in the past that sold to a minor than when I come by to do a follow-up and they are in compliance they are telling the minor you cannot purchase alcohol due to your age,” said Williams.

This is just underage compliance checks for package stores, gas stations and businesses. Their other operations include checking restaurants, bars and clubs to see if their licenses are visible with no illegal liquors.

These special agents put together their own operations, but they also do so with other municipalities and law enforcement agencies across the Coastal Empire as needed.

Copyright 2019 WTOC. All rights reserved.