Concerns grow over underage drinking linked to Virginia’s take-out cocktail law

Virginia’s take-out cocktail law was intended to help struggling businesses during the pandemic, but there are now concerns that underage drinkers will take advantage.

Concerns stem from delivery drivers checking whether customers ordering alcoholic beverages are over 21. A study by the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Authority highlighted how often this can happen.

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Virginia ABC officers conducted the study by performing compliance audits of third-party delivery services statewide last fall. Checks consisted of officers ordering alcoholic beverages for underage shoppers and checking whether drivers would verify the customer’s age.

The results showed that out of 52 completed orders, 32 of them went to an underage buyer. Of these 32 orders, 23 involved situations where a customer’s identity had not been verified. For the other nine sales, officials said ID was required, but that didn’t stop drivers from giving the items to underage customers.

FOX 5 spoke with Brandi Nanninni, who is the senior vice president of a nonprofit called Responsibility Initiatives.

Nanninni tells FOX 5 the data is concerning.

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“There seems to be a disconnect at least in this case between the companies and the rules which I know are very dedicated to and the delivery guys. So maybe a lot more training is needed,” Nanninni said. “It’s critical that all of us as a community get it right. It’s important that these underage drinkers don’t have cocktails to go.”

Nanninni also tells FOX 5 that “preventing underage drinking through take-out cocktails or alcohol delivery is something that has to be a holistic approach. It has to involve training, it has to always involve visual inspection of ID and an age verification and they also need to make sure the license is genuine.”

FOX 5 reached out to several third-party delivery services to comment on the study.

Uber Eats referred FOX 5 to its guidelines for drivers delivering alcohol, which stated that drivers should check a customer’s sobriety, ask for ID, verify identity and confirm the age by scanning the ID using the driver app.

FOX 5 has also heard of Instacart, which said it takes alcohol compliance seriously and performs several stages of verification before delivering to customers.

After Thursday’s conference, the court plans to release a list of cases it will or will not hear next Monday at 9:30 a.m.


The Door Dash sent FOX 5 a statement reading in part

“We are constantly working to ensure that all alcohol ordered on our platform is delivered responsibly. This includes rolling out two-step identity verification, both before a customer completes a order and once before the drawer hands over the delivery.”

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