Bill calls for stricter penalties on underage sales

by Becca Teale

In the stockroom of Dinkytown Wine and Spirits sits two boxes full of fake IDs.
But if Sen. Ember Reichgott Junge DFL-New Hope gets her way, owner Irv Hershkovitz will see no growth in his collection.
Junge announced Thursday she will introduce a bill that she hopes will deter underage alcohol access.
If it passes, the bill would:
ù require civil penalties for the sale of alcoholic beverages to persons under 21 years of age by a licensed distributor;
ù mandate two compliance checks by undercover youth in a two-year period in each location where alcoholic beverages are sold;
ù provide tighter controls in home delivery of alcoholic beverages;
ù give municipalities the authority to ban the sale of 50 milliliter, or airline size, bottles of alcohol.
The bill stems from research by Dr. Alex Wagenaar, a University epidemiology professor.
Wagenaar and University students conducted thousands of ID-checking tests at liquor stores across Minnesota. They found more than half of the liquor stores did not ask for ID.
“We are trying to deter easy access to alcohol for underage drinkers,” Wagenaar said. “Easy access significantly increases the rates of alcohol abuse and drunk driving accidents.”
Junge, in a prepared statement, said intoxicated, inexperienced drivers account for 2,500 accidents or more each year. She said little driving experience and intoxication is a deadly combination.
“For teens, alcohol is the drug of choice. Underage drinking is a serious public health risk,” Junge said.
Wine and Spirits owner Hershkovitz said the bill will mean no change for his establishment.
“I’ve been on this campus for 17 years and we card everyone. We are known for being as strict as possible,” Hershkovitz said. “If someone is in our store without an ID, they have to leave.”
Hershkovitz said the biggest problem Wine and Spirits has with underage drinkers is the fake IDs.