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NYC Liquor Stores Caught Selling Alcohol to Underage Buyers


Hundreds of liquor stores in New York City were caught selling alcohol to underage buyers in an investigation launch by the city’s Department of Health.

Under a $147,000 grant from the Department of Health, the state liquor authority sent over 200 decoys under the age of 21 to 911 liquor stores between April and September 2014 to purchase alcohol.

About 58 percent of the stores sold liquor to the decoys. The 900 plus stores represent about 10 percent of stores, deli, bodegas, etc., that have licenses to sell alcohol in the five boroughs.

Current penalties for store owners start at $2,500 and can go up to $10,000 for repeated offenses.

New York City Department of Health Commissioner Mary Bassett responded that the agency will send letters to all stores reminding them to check IDs and to train their employees properly. The department will also be holding trainings for stores to help them recognize fake IDs and other preventative measures.

Here are some other issues, the study found about underage drinking in New York City:

  • White and Hispanic public high school youths are more likely to drink (including binge) than Blacks and Asians
  • One in five public high school youths purchase their own alcohol
  • Wine and liquor retailers sell to minors just as often as beer retailers; at 60 and 56 percent respectively
  • Of the youths who consumer alcohol, about 53 percent consume liquor (whiskey, brandy, vodka etc…)

S.C. Rhyne is a blogger and novelist in New York City. Follow the author on Twitter @ReporterandGirl, and visit her website at

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