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retailers to avoid liability if they can establish that they took reasonable steps to avoid serving minors and obviously intoxicated adults. Key to the defense is evidence that the retailer trained his or her staff, including both servers and managers, established management policies designed to deter such sales and service, and that the training procedures and policies were fully implemented at the time of the illegal sale or service.4 The model act seeks to establish a positive incentive for retailers to implement prevention policies and enhance the positive public health benefits of dram shop liability policies.

Recommendation 9-5: States should enact or strengthen dram shop liability statutes to authorize negligence-based civil actions against commercial providers of alcohol for serving or selling alcohol to a minor who subsequently causes injury to others, while allowing a defense for sellers who have demonstrated compliance with responsible business practices. States should include in their dram shop statutes key portions of the Model Alcoholic Beverage Retail Licensee Liability Act of 1985, including the responsible business practices defense.

Internet Sales and Home Delivery

Surveys of underage purchase of alcohol over the Internet or through home delivery show that small percentages (10 percent) of young people report obtaining alcohol in this manner (Fletcher et al., 2000); however, increasing use of the Internet may increase the percentage. Although an argument can certainly be made for banning Internet and home delivery sales altogether in light of the likelihood that these methods will be used by underage purchasers, the committee recognizes that some states may not be willing to curtail legitimate access to alcohol through these means and so recommends, instead, tightening access.

Recommendation 9-6: States that allow Internet sales and home delivery of alcohol should regulate these activities to reduce the likelihood of sales to underage purchasers. States should

  • require all packages for delivery containing alcohol to be clearly labeled as such;


States allowing retailers to recover their fines and other costs by suing underage drinkers who use false identification should also condition the retailers’ recovery on proof of compliance with responsible business practices, including electronic scanning of driver’s licenses if the state issues scannable licenses.

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