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Ann Arbor Bars, Restaurants Checked ID 100%, Liquor Stores 50% - Not Serving/Selling Alcohol to Minors in Latest Inspection

In a third round of mystery shops, it’s a perfect score once again for Ann Arbor area bars and restaurants for correctly checking patrons’ identification to verify their legal age to drink alcohol prior to serving them. But liquor stores checked customers’ ID only 50% of the time prior to selling beverage alcohol, a drop from 82% during mystery shops initially done with retailers last fall.  

Of the total 17 Ann Arbor inspections done in April and May, 11 received Green cards, indicative of an overall “pass” rate of 65% among liquor licensees. Six of 12 off-premises retailers checked IDs, while all five on-premises establishments correctly requested an ID, maintaining a 100% pass rate from round #2 of mystery shops done last winter in bars and restaurants.

The Michigan Liquor Control Commission (MLCC) will continue its’ second year of sponsoring this mystery shopper program in Ann Arbor through grant funding it received recently.*

“Our goal is to make a measurable difference toward preventing the illegal sale and service of alcohol to minors and to curtail underage drinking in Ann Arbor,” said MLCC Chair Pat Gagliardi. “These inspections provide non-punitive ‘teachable moments’ for licensees to stay on top of making sure that their managers and staff are not selling or serving alcohol to minors, reminding them every day to check IDs every time.”

The Michigan Alcohol Responsibility Program (MI ARP) is conducted by the Responsible Retailing Forum (RRForum) on behalf of the MLCC. The MI ARP complements the MLCC’s longstanding and highly successful, Controlled Buy Operation Program by preparing licensees to pass compliance checks either by the MLCC or local law enforcement. Since the MLCC Enforcement Division’s primary goal is compliance with the Liquor Control Code and Administrative Rules, this additional measure and program goal is intended to reduce the incidence of selling or to serving minors thereby raising the compliance rate in Michigan overall.

The MI ARP educates liquor licensees and their employees on the importance of checking IDs prior to serving or selling alcohol to customers. Young, legal-age mystery shoppers provide on-the-spot feedback on whether staff are correctly verifying age and the authenticity of IDs. Only the RRForum and the licensee alone know individual results. Ann Arbor area liquor licensees are receiving a third Community Report on MI ARP’s latest round of mystery shopper aggregate results (without any licensees’ names).  

The safe sale and service of alcohol not only protects public health and safety, it allows the industry to expand.  In the last 10 years, the spirits industry in Michigan has more than doubled to a record of $1.92 billion in state spirit sales to retail licensees for fiscal year 2021. Safety is good for business. The MLCC applauds licensees who check IDs conscientiously.

The MLCC is also partnering with the Michigan Coalition to Reduce Underage Drinking, along with industry stakeholders to promote the responsible sale, service and consumption of alcohol in college communities and throughout Michigan. 

* The National Alcohol Beverage Control Association (NABCA) of which the MLCC is a member as a state regulator, has provided funding for the MI ARP for a second academic year. NABCA provides such awards to support efforts toward protecting public health and safety and strengthening responsible and efficient alcohol regulatory systems.

The mission of the Michigan Liquor Control Commission (MLCC) is to make alcoholic beverages available for consumption while protecting the consumer and the general public through regulation of those involved in the sale and distribution of these alcohol beverage products.   

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