CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — There were 223 alcohol compliance I.D. checks at businesses that sell alcohol including gas stations and stores in December. Out of those 223 checks, 32 sales failed the requirement for an I.D. check resulting in a 14.35% non-compliance rate, according to Substance Abuse Free Environment (SAFE).

The non-compliance rate is calculated by how many stores pass an I.D. check versus those that do not — and is raised when more employees don’t check the buyers’ age and sell to underage customers.

SAFE’s Youth Coalition, in partnership with Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority and Chesterfield County Police Department conducted the compliance checks by training underage youth to try to purchase alcohol from a vendor, with a goal of prompting an I.D. check.

SAFE wants everyone to remember it is illegal to sell alcohol to anyone under the age of 21.

Regina Whitsett, the Executive Director of SAFE, said the compliance rates are rising and a pandemic doesn’t change the age to buy alcohol.

“If they are asked for I.D., then that is what we consider a successful compliance check,” Whitsett said. “It is important for us to do this strategy because the non-compliance rates are going up.”

Whitsett said the goal isn’t to trick the person selling alcohol, it is to make sure that they are abiding by the law and asking for an I.D. before making a sale.

“We want to make sure that people are selling alcohol responsibly so it doesn’t get into the hands of youth,” Whitsett said.

SAFE has been conducting underage compliance checks since 2007 and warns locations ahead of time to prepare. Stores selling alcohol are at risk of temporarily or permanently lose their Virginia ABC License if they do not comply three times.

In 2012, the noncompliance rate was 7%, rising to 12.7% in Spring 2019.

Whitsett said it is important to note even though there is currently a higher non-compliance rate, over 85% of stores complied.