Preventing Underage Drinking

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Knoxville (WVLT) - As government leaders scrutinize the alleged underage sale of alcohol at Michael's restaurant, we wanted to find out whether business owners and their customers think our community is doing enough to curb illegal sales.

Volunteer TV's Gary Loe visited a number of establishments in the business of selling alcohol and has some answers to this question.

The Cumberland Avenue Strip is a prime area for potential underage drinking because of the proximity of college students attending UT and Knoxville College campuses.

We went there to find out if enough is being done to curb underage drinking in our community. Cumberland Avenue BP Mart owner Simon Tabaja double checks IDs of all customers buying beer, then records their birthdays, making certain he sells to no one under the age of 21.

"You work here, you stay nervous all night, you don't want to make mistake," Tabaja said.

A BP customer who frequents businesses along the UT Strip says it would be tough here for someone underage to buy alcohol.

"I think they're pretty strict with it, in my opinion. I mean, I've never been in a place yet that did not ask for an ID," customer Jason Cheskey said.

Nearby restaurant and bar BW3's has a number of safeguards in place to prevent underage alcohol sales. One difference here, servers must scan IDs of each guest ordering an alcoholic beverage.

"It tells their date of birth, their expiration date, and makes sure they're legal. So, it's really up to our servers at this point to follow up, make sure that's the right person," manager Tim Vicars said.

One BW3 customer questions whether other East Tennessee businesses are doing enough to stop underage drinking.

"Some yes, some no. Some just look at it, some actually like read it, write it down. If it's dark, some people take it to a light, make sure they're reading it right, some don't," customer Tyrone Phillips said.

Meantime, despite taking precautions, Tabaja says more responsibility for breaking the law should be shouldered by the underage alcohol buyers.

"I think the government, what they should do, make the person who buy beer pay the price, not the one he sell, I think that is fair enough for the business," Tabja said.

The state requires servers to attend a certified alcohol awareness training class and obtain a server permit. In addition, some Cumberland Avenue businesses we visited also check IDs at the door and use wristbands to label whether a customer is underage.