Checking IDs for booze sales

Councilor Greg Jamison wonders whether some Sioux Falls small businesses would be willing to spend $3,000 for a machine that scans IDs and works to ensure cashiers cannot make underage sales.

Mike Wehrkamp of Munchies said it’s a small investment considering how much he’s paid in fines for underage sales in the past 12 years.

For example, he said he now has to pay a $2,000 fine because a cashier sold to someone with a red ID, and he estimates it’s going to cost $30,000 in beer sales to pay that fine.

The City Council on Wednesday approved various retail liquor, package liquor and retail line license renewals for city businesses.

Councilors are pushing for a statewide change to make stricter penalties for businesses busted for selling to minors, but for now, have little room to yank licenses if it happens.

So, as a policy, councilors require business owners that have failed compliance checks to come to the council meeting, explain what happened, whether the employee was fired and answer any other questions. In most cases, the business owners fire the employee who sold during the compliance check.

The business owners also have employees undergo extensive training, but said part of the struggle is when employees simply choose not to check an ID. Or they check an ID, and enter the wrong date in the computer, or hit an override button.