MOUNT CARMEL - The Mount Carmel Police Department is now conducting alcohol server training classes to help prepare clerks who sell packaged alcohol to obtain the state permits that will be mandatory beginning July 1.
There were four students in the first class conducted Tuesday afternoon by MCPD Assistant Chief Mike Campbell. All four are employees of SKIPEZ market in Mount Carmel, and Campbell said all four passed the five-hour course.
Another five SKIPEZ employees will join about six employees from the Mount Carmel Amoco station on Jan. 23, at which time the employees of Mount Carmel's two beer selling establishments will have completed the course.
Campbell, who became certified to teach the class last month, said that after all of the Mount Carmel clerks have completed the course it will be offered to businesses outside of Mount Carmel.
The MCPD is the only law enforcement agency in the region that offers this class.
Tennessee bartenders are already required to take the class to obtain a state permit to serve alcohol, but the new state law which takes effect July 1 requires store clerks who sell packaged alcohol to take the class and obtain permits as well.
After receiving a minimum of five hours of instruction, there is a 50-question test that must be passed before the alcohol seller permit can be issued. The instruction and the test can all be completed in a single session, however.
"State is now requiring store clerks to receive this permit along with bartenders due to all of the lawsuits that have been filed in recent years in which alcohol was sold at a store to a person who was already intoxicated," Campbell said. "When a store sells to a person who is already drunk, if that person goes out and has a wreck that injures or kills another person, the store and the clerk can also be held liable for the damages. We've already seen several lawsuits of this nature in Hawkins County and throughout the region."
Campbell said the class teaches clerks about the effects of alcohol, the strengths of different types of drinks, and how to identify an intoxicated person. It also familiarizes clerks with Tennessee's "Dram Shop" statute, which allows stores and clerks to be held liable if they sell alcohol to an intoxicated person who then injuries or kills another.
"Some of the larger companies have in-house programs of this nature for their clerks or bartenders, and some businesses don't," Campbell said. "We wanted to make this service available right here in the area, and that's why I got certified to teach the class. We're going to get our two establishments we have here in town out of the way, and then we're going to offer the class to anyone."
The class costs about $50 per person. Campbell can be contacted to schedule future classes by calling 357-9019.