Nearly 40% of convenience stores in Putnam County fail underage - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Nearly 40% of convenience stores in Putnam County fail underage compliance check

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In the latest underage compliance check more than one third of stores tested in Putnam County failed. That means during undercover tests run by police, those convenience stores sold alcohol to a minor.

The Pilot station in Nitro off the Nitro exit of I-64 is one of the 8 stores that failed the test last night. In total 22 stores were checked. When a store fails a test police instantly give a citation to the clerk and the Alcohol Beverage Control Administration determines what penalty the business may face.

"It’s just very surprising, I know when I go in to buy stuff I get ID-ed so it surprises me that many people can sell alcohol to underage kids," said Tracey Carnes, a Putnam County mother of a 15-year-old and 19-year-old. 

She was alarmed to hear that many businesses sold alcohol to a minor.

"It just blows my mind that these young kids can have access to that," she said.

The Putnam County Sheriff’s Department runs these tests with the Alcohol Beverage Control Administration. Lt. Ryan Lockhart says with it being prom and graduation season more people try to use fake IDs and that sometimes they sneak through the cracks.

"I think as the weather gets warm, prom, graduation, senior trips, that kind of stuff I think it would definitely raise the levels," said Carnes.

The full list of stores that failed and passed the tests can be found on the Putnam County Sheriff's Facebook Page.

The Putnam Wellness Coalition which works to steer kids away from underage drinking  recognizes those that do not sell and offers training sessions to those that do.

"We want to catch people doing the right thing, not the wrong thing," said Bill O'Dell who is Program Director with the Coalition.

In April 2017 about 12.5% of the stores checked failed the test. In May 2017 more than 36% of the stores failed, that’s more than a 20% increase.

"It’s always alarming that we have it at all," said Lt. Ryan Lockhart who conducted the tests.

"The sheriff’s department does about five or six checks a year rotating through all stores in the county hoping that eventually all pass the test so alcohol is kept out of the hands of minors.

"The fewer underage people we have consuming alcohol the fewer number of DUI drivers or influenced drivers that we have on our highways," said Lt. Lockhart. "Our ultimate goal is to never have to knock on a door and tell a family that their loved one is not coming home."

The Governor's Highway Safety Program provides the funding for this testing.

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