Kansas liquor control agents arrested 38 people in Lawrence in a weekend sweep of bars and retail liquor stores, state officials said Tuesday.
Alcoholic Beverage Control agents timed the assault to coincide with the return of students to Kansas University and Haskell Indian Nations University.
``Establishments that sell to these kids or allow underage individuals to possess alcohol are breaking the law,'' said ABC Director Bernie Norwood of Lawrence.
Six agents checked 18 bars in Lawrence on Friday and Saturday nights. Fifteen underage persons possessing alcoholic beverages were found in eight bars.
Names of those businesses will remain confidential until administrative citations are issued by the state in about four weeks.
Agents posing as retail liquor store customers caught seven underage people attempting to buy liquor. In addition, six adults were arrested outside retail liquor stores for furnishing alcohol to nine underage people. One person was caught attempting to enter a bar with fake identification.
``It's a lot of people,'' said Lawrence Mayor Marty Kennedy. ``I'd assume they could probably do the same on special-event weekends in other parts of the year.''
Kennedy, in conjunction with KU and Haskell, created a task force to search for new ways to reduce underage drinking in Lawrence. The task force is expected to issue recommendations in December.
Norwood said state licensed bars and liquor stores face new, stiffer penalties for breaking the law. On July 1, ABC revised its fine structure in an effort to increase the compliance rate of liquor licensees from 67 percent to 90 percent in four years.
``The fines get steeper and steeper with each violation,'' Norwood said.
For example: A fifth offense will result in a $700 fine for each underage person served, plus a one-day weekend license suspension. A sixth offense results in an $800 fine for each underage person served and a two-day weekend license suspension.
Sheila Walker, spokeswoman for the Department of Revenue, which includes ABC, said all state licensees had infraction slates wiped clean July 1.
ABC's work in Lawrence was part of an enforcement initiative that targets university towns in Kansas, she said.
``This is part of an effort they do every year at the beginning of the school year.''
-- Tim Carpenter's phone message number is 832-7155. His e-mail address is email@example.com.