OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Since the Omaha Metro Coalition spearheaded alcohol compliance checks nearly 25 years ago, the number of minors being served in the area has significantly decreased.
“Over 40% of businesses sold alcohol to the minor during those checks back in 1997 when our organization kind of started that off,” Omaha Metro Coalition member and Project Extra Mile Executive Director Chris Wagner said. “Now it’s below 10 percent.”
However, concerns of minors gaining possession of alcohol is increasing, as alcohol deliveries since the pandemic began, have become more popular.
“Now that COVID has hit, the entire marketplace has really shifted, and policy has enabled that,” Wagner said. “We as a coalition see the need to try and address those deliveries as part of the compliance checks that we coordinate with our law enforcement partners.”
The typical 3-tier system, producer to wholesaler to retailer, has always been a safeguard for regulating and tracking sales and appropriate licensing.
Now direct shipments are making those things much more difficult to follow.
"So now we’re relying on the common carriers to deliver alcohol safely, to check for identification, to make sure nobody that is receiving that alcohol is publicly intoxicated,” National Liquor Law Enforcement Association Executive Director Carrie Christofes said.
“The sad thing is, there’s really no way to know who is doing a delivery because there’s not a specific license to allow us to track that number,” Wagner said. “So basically, if you have off sale privileges as a licensee you are able to deliver or contract with a third-party to make those deliveries on your behalf.”
It also makes it tougher to ensure alcohol isn’t ending up in the wrong hands.
"I hear reports from even non-law enforcement people informing us that they ordered alcohol online and came home from work and it was sitting on their doorstep," Christofes said.
"There are concerns that those things are going unregulated, they are unchecked,” Douglas County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Mandy Peth said. “It's certainly a big loophole for those minors to be able to access that alcohol."
Another concern for the coalition is that the state is potentially missing alcohol sales excise tax because of these deliveries.
The coalition is making it a priority to work with law enforcement and find a solution to these delivery concerns. The National Liquor Law Enforcement Association attended Wednesday’s meeting to help give guidance and speak more to the concerns. As of right now there is no immediate answer.