Alcohol Merchant Education

New Mexico Special Investigation Division (SID) provides training to Sandoval County DWI Task Force agencies and accompanies these law enforcement agencies to assist and provide education to merchants and servers who sell alcohol to encourage compliance with laws and regulations covering the sale of alcohol to minors. Education is provided to retail merchants who sell or serve alcohol and materials are distributed to alcohol retailers summarizing the laws and penalties regarding sales to minors.

Underage Drinking Operations

Underage Drinking Operations include Compliance Checks, Shoulder Taps, Parking Lot Surveillance, and Party Patrols that are conducted by DWI Task Force agencies.

Compliance Checks are conducted by Sandoval County DWI Task Force law enforcement agencies with the assistance of SID and with the help of underage operatives who attempt to purchase liquor from the merchants and servers who have received the Alcohol Merchant Education. This is done to ensure that retail merchants are in compliance with underage drinking laws. The server may be arrested for selling to an underage operative and the retail merchant receives a citation from SID. Some merchants may be mandated to go through education programs again for violation of youth access laws.

In New Mexico one of the main ways young people get alcohol is to ask adult strangers to buy it for them. In “shoulder tap” operations, an undercover operative approaches an adult outside a store and asks the adult to buy him or her alcohol. If the adult agrees and purchases the alcohol, he or she is cited for providing alcohol to a minor.

All these operations are done to promote the enforcement of Underage Drinking Laws. All operations are conducted by local law enforcement and guarantee the safety & security of the underage operatives.


The Synar Amendment was enacted by Congress in July 1992 as part of the Alcohol, Drug Abuse and Mental Health Administration Reorganization Act.

Training is provided by the State to the adults and youth who will provide merchant education and conduct compliance checks for the Sandoval County DWI & Prevention Program.

Sandoval County DWI & Prevention Program provides Tobacco Merchant Education to retailers in Sandoval County and within an 80 mile radius of Bernalillo, NM. Tobacco education consists of providing merchants with posters containing the NM Tobacco Product Act which by law they must have posted in a visible area next to the tobacco. Merchants are also educated on how to properly check ID for all customers attempting to purchase tobacco.

As a follow up procedure annual random, unannounced compliance checks are conducted at random Tobacco Retailers. Underage operatives attempt to purchase tobacco from retailers in the county. All operations are done with strict regulation and monitoring by Sandoval County Prevention Staff.