Minors Buy Alcohol Online

Underage drinkers find new loophole to buying booze: the Internet

As if kids needed a new way to get their hands on alcohol (they can't all be like Josh Hutcherson and get away with a fake ID). Now, underage drinkers are using online commerce to buy alcohol — and are finding it easy to get around age restrictions.

Reuters reports on a study done by the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, who used underage drinkers to buy spirits, wine, and beer from 100 different web sites. The drinkers had 45 successful transactions, 20 rejected transactions (when delivery guys rejected their purchase), 27 failed transactions (when they either weren't home to receive the packages, or had technical glitches). The participants made up fake birth dates on the web sites when prompted, but were asked to show their real IDs when the delivery came. Even then, their underage status didn't prevent the booze from coming in. 

The problem is two-fold: alcohol merchants aren't keeping up with technology to prevent underage purchases, say researchers. But it's not just the companies that are failing to provide strict standards for age requirements. The researchers also blamed delivery services for their lax standards. FedEx and UPS do have standards for delivering wine (the only alcohol the companies deliver), but researchers said packages were often left on doors without adult signatures, or handed to underage recipients. Both FedEx and UPS said they would re-examine their policies after reviewing the study.