Illegal Attempts to Purchase Alcohol by Underage Persons Go Unpunished

The British Home Secretary estimates that the chances of an underage person being punished for attempting to illegally purchase alcohol in the U.K. is one in 282,000 attempts.

On the other hand, vendors are subject to police stings and face fines and loss of license if they sell to an underage person who presents a fraudulent ID. In addition, clerks can suffer fines and loss of employment.

Because those who attempt to illegally purchase alcohol threaten the livelihood of both the sales establishments and their employees, the city of Anchorage in Alaska passed an ordinance allowing licensed establishments to hold anyone who illegally attempts to purchase alcohol with a false or altered ID civilly liable for damages of $1,000. Because of the success of the ordinance, the civil liability legislation was made state law.

By giving them an economic incentive, the law makes alcohol sellers partners rather than adversaries in the fight against illegal alcohol purchases. Many establishments share a percentage of the monetary damages with their employees who confiscate the fake IDs, thus giving them a strong incentive to be highly diligent when checking identification cards.

This law enforcement occurs at no cost to the licensees or to other taxpayers. It is borne entirely by underage minors who deliberately violate the law and jeopardize the licenses and livelihoods of those from whom they attempt to buy alcohol.

The Alaska law represents a creative approach to solving a social problem.

 

Source:

  • Hope, Christopher. Children who try to buy alcohol "go unpunished." The Telegraph (U.K.), February 12, 2008.

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