SPRINGFIELD — Fifteen businesses in Champaign and Vermilion counties have been cited by the Illinois Liquor Control Commission for selling alcohol to underage customers in November.
The businesses face penalties ranging from fines to possibly having their licenses revoked, according to a spokeswoman for the liquor control commission.
The Champaign County businesses facing penalties are: JonEB's, 123 S. Mattis Ave., C; Arrowhead Lanes, 1401 N. McKinley Ave., C; The Red Lion, 211 E. Green St., C; Bentley's Pub, 419 N. Neil St., C; Cafe Luna, 116 N. Chester St., C; Farren's Pub & Eatery, 308 N. Randolph St., C; Angie's Homestead, 306 S. Main, Gifford; Casey's General Store, rural Gifford; and Casey's General Store, 206 Division St., Fisher.
The Vermilion County businesses cited by the liquor control commission are: Casey's General Store, Rossville; The Other Place II, Rossville; Monical's Pizza, Hoopeston; Hoopeston Convenience Food Store, Hoopeston; BS of Hoopeston, Hoopeston; and Boones Rankin, Rankin.
Officials from the liquor control commission and the Illinois State Police conducted underage compliance checks in Champaign and Vermilion counties on Nov. 7, 14 and 28, using local law enforcement officials and volunteers from high schools and colleges.
According to the commission, teams randomly visit liquor stores, restaurants and bars in communities around Illinois to check for compliance with state laws mandating that no liquor is sold to customers under the age of 21. Agents also work with local and state law enforcement agents to focus on communities with a high incidence of underage liquor sales.
Statewide in November the commission visited 227 businesses licensed to sell liquor. Sixty-eight businesses were cited for violations of liquor control laws, meaning that 30 percent of the licensees allegedly violated Illinois liquor laws and served underage customers.
In the Champaign and Vermilion county investigations, 15 of 60 licensees checked, or 25 percent, were cited for violating liquor laws.
"This was not a great month. We've been running between 75 percent and 85 percent compliance, but I think November and December tend to be higher when kids come home from college," said Liquor Control Commission spokeswoman Sue Hofer.
Usually alleged violators are allowed to continue to operate if it's a first offense, according to Hofer. She said she did not know the operating status of the 15 area license holders cited.
Even for a first offense, she said, violators face a fine of about $500.
"What we do is, send a volunteer in who is under 21, with his or her own identification," she said. "We try to order a drink or buy a six-pack. If they're not carded or if they are carded and they still are served, (the businesses) are cited for selling to a minor.
"At that point, it comes back to the commission and we look at their record, and if it's a first violation they're usually offered the option of paying a fine in lieu of a hearing. If it's a subsequent violation, they usually don't get an opportunity to settle, and they're required to come to a hearing before the commission, either in Chicago or in Springfield."
Repeated violations could yield a license revocation, she said.