MARINETTE — Underage alcohol compliance checks were conducted throughout Marinette County.

The checks were conducted by the Marinette County Sheriff’s Office and Marinette County Health Department. The program is coordinated with volunteers who have recently reached the age of 18, but look younger than their actual age.

Deputies Kurt Kostuch and Brad Wyss worked with the two 18-year-olds who acted as “decoys” at various business in the county. The volunteers were only allowed to keep a marked bill, their cell phone and a state issued driver’s license on their person during the checks.

The decoys, under the direction of the deputies, would enter a store or station that sells alcohol for off-premise consumption and attempt to purchase some. If the decoy was asked to show identification they would present their state-issued diver’s license, showing their current age of 18. If they are asked how old they are, they would state their age.

After the decoy had attempted a purchase, the deputy made contact with the clerk. If the purchase was denied, they deputy would thank the clerk for performing their job correctly. If a sale was completed, the clerk was cited under Wisconsin State Law Statute 125.07(1)(a)1. The business would be notified for informational purposes.

Upon completion of the checks, it was found that 11 percent (5 out of 44 business) violated state law and sold alcohol to a minor.

This is the lowest percentage of sales since the the checks began. Of the last four years, 2016 had 46 percent and the percentage has decreased every year since.

Marinette County takes this information seriously because alcohol in the hands of minors can lead to a variety of societal problems. The purpose of these checks is to take a more proactive approach to stop the sale of alcohol to minors.