Alabama alcohol delivery bill signed – is verification on delivery enough?

Since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, businesses around the world have been looking into methods that could help them to generate more income while their doors were closed to the public. We saw alcohol delivery in the UK soar throughout the first lockdown with Drinkaware reporting at the end of 2020 that more than 22% of people in the UK were drinking more. Even with pubs and restaurants now slowly opening across the UK, alcohol home delivery sales are continuing.

Recently, Governor Kay Ivey signed the SB 126 bill into law in Alabama, allowing beer, spirits and wine to be delivered to customers in the state. Below, we look at this new law in more detail and discuss the concerns of verifying the age of customers on delivery, rather than at the point of purchase as seen in the UK.

A new law for the people of Alabama

Alabama is just the latest state in the US to pass this law as it joins 30 others who believe that alcohol delivery should be allowed to customers. The SB 126 bill notes that customers can have alcohol delivered to their home in the original containers from package stores. Additionally, the law allows for bars and restaurants to offer alcohol delivery with a meal purchase.

According to the new law, only those who are aged 21 or older will be allowed to order alcohol directly to their home. This falls in line with the age restrictions set out by the US government.

Additionally, the bill will limit how much alcohol can be shipped and will also create a licensing procedure on how the sales will work.

How will this be enforced?

With the new law comes age verification requirements to ensure customers are legally allowed to purchase the products. According to the Distilled Spirits Council of the US (DISCUS), there will be strict safety protocols in place to ensure minors cannot purchase the products. Additionally, they noted that there will be prohibitions on serving intoxicated patrons.

To verify age, delivery drivers will need to undergo training and be over 21 years old. On delivery, the ID of the customer will be checked, and they must sign for the package. Additionally, the bill requires the businesses to have scanning technology or an ABC Board approved alternative to verify the customer identification.

Is there a better solution?

The new bill signed in Alabama is similar to the laws surrounding alcohol delivery in the UK. Age verification of customers is performed in person at the point of delivery – but is this enough? In this case, you are relying on the delivery drivers to verify age with no real monitoring. Delivery drivers are often under a lot of pressure to hit their delivery slots and so could potentially skip this important step to save time. Should the responsibility fall on the drivers or should the retailers use a better solution?

We believe that age verification should be done at the point of sale, using expert technology. In-person ID checks might be a good solution, but they are not as effective as many people think. Large retailers in the UK are still relying on their delivery drivers despite concerns over checks during the pandemic as previously mentioned in our news posts.

More needs to be done to protect children from the harms of alcohol and the ease at which they can purchase online. A Home Office spokesperson said: “The government takes underage drinking very seriously and is committed to cracking down hard on criminal and irresponsible businesses that sell alcohol to children.”

How Can AgeChecked Help?

AgeChecked wants to ensure that all alcohol retailers are protecting themselves and their customers, by providing a legally compliant age verification without deterring prospective customers from purchasing the products. With the help of our fully integrated API, the age verification takes place in the background during the checkout process, providing a frictionless experience for the customer. If the check passes, the sale proceeds as normal. If it is unsuccessful then further verification options can be provided to the customer.

Our alcohol age verification solution is proven to be effective and is used by retailers in various regions. Get in touch to request a demo of our solution and make sure that any alcohol sales are compliant.

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