137 cited at Madison bar for underage drinking

Police officers cited 137 people for underage drinking at a Madison bar.
Published: Sep. 2, 2022 at 11:32 AM CDT|Updated: Sep. 2, 2022 at 10:42 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - When police officers walked into a downtown Madison bar Thursday night, they asked 143 people to prove they were 21 years old. Only six of them succeeded.

With only around four percent of them being old enough to drink, that left 137 people facing underage alcohol consumption and/or false identification citations, according to numbers provided by the Madison Police Department.

And, more citations are likely, MPD added they do not usually catch this many underage drinkers in one spot.

Per Madison law, a first offense for someone younger than 21 trying to purchase alcohol at a bar could pay between $379 to $691.

“We are here to say that we are going to uphold our ordinances, laws and there are serious consequences for this kind of behavior both for the students, underage people that are engaging in it,” MPD public information officer Hunter Lisko said.

Lisko did not include the name of the bar in question. MPD explained investigators are still trying to determine its role in the number of underage people who were drinking at the time.

MPD’s Central District Police Team had teamed up with UW Police Department to conduct the operation, which MPD described as proactive enforcement of liquor laws in the downtown areas. The MPD statement noted that officers had stopped at multiple bars that night.

In addition to enforcing age limits on drinking, the “proactive enforcement” offers training to bar and taverns for how they can safely serve alcohol.

Any establishment wanting the training is asked to call the Central District at 608-261-9694.

”We’re not trying to hang them out to dry, we’re not trying to point the finger or single anybody out but we want everyone to make as safe as possible decisions when they’re downtown Madison,” Lisko said.

Establishments caught knowingly selling alcohol to underage people could lose their liquor licenses for up to two years, depending on the number of offenses and situation.

UW-Madison students caught wind of Thursday night’s incident online.

“On social media it was blown up on there,” freshman Justin said. “I do get that it’s hard, it’s Madison - a big party school - that part is also fun but I’d rather be safe than sorry.”

Freshman Jared also said he would prefer school-sanctioned events over the party scene.

”I like doing the Wisconsin welcome events. Charlie Berens is coming tonight. I would rather be there,” Jared said. “It’s just kind of crazy over at State Street so it’s just best to stay away from my point of view.”

He said UW-Madison prepares students to encounter events where illegal activities like underage drinking might happen through an online alcohol education course.

”It’s more educational on how to know when you’re drinking too much [and] what to do when you’re around it,” Jared said. “It’s best that you stay away from it especially because it’s illegal.”