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The Vice Squad: Now At A Store Near You

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10/26/2006

My wife and I were going to have some friends over so we picked up some snacks and a case of beer. When it was time to pay, the cashier asked to see not only my ID but also my wife's ID. This was puzzling; it had not happened before in places where we had lived before.

At first I thought that it would a new "progressive" store policy, but something didn't feel quite right. Thus, we decided to ask the cashier about it.

It turns out, we were told, that New York state law requires that everyone who is at the checkout lane be 21 or older. We were told that the state policy mandates that people cannot be sold alcoholic beverages if they're with minors, apparently even their family!

The cashier also informed us that in the past there had been many reports of adults giving alcohol to underage kids and thus this law was necessary to prevent such things.

What would happen if an adult and a minor were asked to show ID and upon this happening the minor would go to the car and wait? Again, the cashier mentioned that though they determine these things on a case-by-case basis, the store employees are liable for "illegal" sales and so they do it because their freedom is at stake. Further questioning proved useless, as the employee herself was frustrated and confused about the very law she was required to follow.

I find it hard to believe that this law, putting aside property rights issues, reduces underage drinking. Nothing stops anyone from later on giving the drinks to other people once they leave the store.

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