How Easy Is it for Minors to Buy Alcohol Online?

By: Lori Dougovito
By: Lori Dougovito

In the coming weeks, the State House will consider a bill that would prohibit businesses from shipping alcohol through the mail. Supporters argue the bill is needed to prevent minors from buying booze on the internet. So we decided to check for ourselves, to see how easy it actually is for minors to purchase alcohol illegally online.

Using a credit card, 20-year-old Danielle Weller purchased and shipped a $12 bottle of vodka to her home. Her 18-year-old sister answered the door when it was delivered and signed for the package. Danielle says never once during the purchasing process was she asked her age or to verify she was old enough to purchase alcohol.

A few days after our experiment, a State House committee debated a bill which stops these kind of alcohol shipments. It's in response to a United States Supreme Court ruling which found Michigan's practice of only banning out of state shipments unconstitutional. Wine was the focus.

Opponents argue this new bill is solely to protect wholesalers. Supporters say it would curb the illegal buying of alcohol online.

Ingham County Sheriff's Office Detective Mark Bowser oversaw Danielle's purchase but admits he doesn't know if minors are actually buying alcohol this way. Michigan wineries say they've never been cited for selling or shipping to a minor.

The bill was approved by the House committee and has been sent to the full House.

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