Businesses that serve alcohol in Carson City got a friendly wakeup call from the sheriff's department this week.
They better get the message before the awakening becomes a rude one.
Sheriff Kenny Furlong's troops sent some 21-year-olds around to 54 businesses to see if they'd get asked for identification before they were served alcohol.
Astonishingly, more than half (51 percent) simply served up the booze -- no questions asked.
Now, the businesses didn't do anything illegal. The ringers in this pseudo-sting were of legal age. But the sheriff's staff says the 21-year-olds were "young-looking," so it was a pretty good test of who is enforcing the law and who isn't.
The next step, Furlong said, will be to send out some minors. If they get served, the clerks and owners will get warnings.
That's a pretty nice way for the Sheriff's Department to handle the situation, because the main point is to educate businesses and employees, not to hammer them.
By that time, though, it's quite possible some places will have two strikes against them. And when the sheriff's sting comes around for the third time, violators are going to get that rude awakening.
Part of it will be $800 fines for clerks who serve underage youngsters. More important, in our opinion, will be reports to the city's Liquor Board for suspensions or revocations of liquor licenses.
If it gets to that point, those businesses should be hammered -- and hard.
We won't want to hear any excuses of "it was a fluke" or "somebody made a mistake." Furlong is giving them ample opportunity to impress upon employees that violations can close a business.
But, of course, it's not about business. It's about protecting the safety of the young people of this community. Fines, suspensions, revocations -- none can compare to the kind of wakeup call a parent gets at 2 a.m. from a sheriff's deputy.