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Beware the Colorado Liquor License Underage Sting

Half Fast BartenderAll Colorado liquor licensed establishments are subject to a Colorado underage “sting” or “compliance check” by the state and local liquor enforcement authorities.  In order to pass the sting, responsible alcohol service is critical.
Local and Colorado state authorities regularly conduct underage “compliance checks” or “stings.”  Having a well trained staff and proper policies will help keep your guests safe.  A Colorado liquor violation for underage service is is easily avoidable if your bartenders and servers are trained and aware.
Under Colorado law, it is illegal to sell, serve, give away, dispose of, exchange, or deliver, or permit the sale, serving, giving, or procuring of, any alcohol beverage to a visibly intoxicated person or to a known habitual drunkard; and to sell, serve, give away, dispose of, exchange, or deliver or permit the sale, serving, giving, or procuring of any alcohol beverage to or for any person under the age of twenty-one (21) years.  Colo. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 44-3-901.

The Key to passing a Colorado Underage Sting:


Refusing service to underage patrons is fairly simple if you make it a policy to always require proof of age.  Always check for acceptable proof of age from everyone who orders alcohol.  If an acceptable proof of age is not available from the guest, no service or sale should be provided.  Colorado underage stings often will have someone who appears early 20s and with a valid ID; or, someone over 21 that orders two drinks for someone without an ID.  BE AWARE.  Recently, we’ve seen teenagers being used by police officers in the stings.

Acceptable forms of ID:

  • Any CURRENT state issued Drivers License or ID card with a photo.
  • Military Identification
  • Passport
  • Alien Registration card
  • Foreign Drivers License
  • Mexican Drivers license
  • Canadian Drivers license
  • United States Territory Drivers License
  • I.N.S. Employment Authorization Card
  • All must be valid (NOT EXPIRED) and have a photo.

It is a GOOD POLICY to keep an I.D. Checking Guide at the point of sale.  Also, TIPS training, if not required by your local licensing authority, is essential for every Colorado liquor licensed establishment in my opinion.  If you use an ID scanner, beware that fake IDs are increasingly sophisticated and have been known to appear valid to a scanner.

The consequences for underage service in Colorado are very real for the person serving and the establishment:

  • Criminal: class two misdemeanor 3 to 12 months jail and/or $250 to $1000.00 fine or both.
  • Administrative: suspension or revocation of license and/or $200 to $5000 fine.

If you have received a Colorado Liquor Violation, don’t panic, give us a call.  We’ll help.

Colorado Beverage Lawyers of LaszloLaw

Our Colorado beverage lawyers assist startup Colorado breweries by addressing their needs throughout the startup process and continuing to provide guidance as they grow. Contact the Colorado beverage lawyers at LaszloLaw today to discuss your brewery’s needs.

Originally Published March, 2016.  Updated January, 2019.

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