Underage alcohol sales down 75% in 3 years in Chesterfield

By Tara Morgan - bio | email

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - Chesterfield retailers are getting the message: it's illegal to sell alcohol to minors. But one local agency that fights underage liquor sales said there's a new challenge your teen could be exposed to: alcohol energy drinks.

It's becoming more difficult for teens to buy alcohol at Chesterfield stores.

Wayne Frith with Substance Abuse Free Environment or SAFE tracks illegal liquor sales in the county by working with police on undercover stings. In the last three years, Frith said there's been a 75% drop in such sales in Chesterfield.

"We have effectively changed the expectation for the behavior of people who sell alcohol," said Frith.

Frith credits incentives for store clerks, like free movie tickets, but said store owners also don't want to lose their liquor licenses. But there's a new challenge.

"We were checking for regular beer and wine. We're now going to change the focus of our compliance checks to alcohol energy drinks," said Frith.

Including Four Loko, says Frith which is now banned in at least five states. It contains the equivalent of five beers and five cups of coffee.

"After one or two your way beyond the legal drunk limit, but your so stimulated you're not aware of how intoxicated you are," said Frith.

Frith said a survey shows some Chesterfield teens can't get enough of that kind of beverage.

"Alcohol energy drinks are very popular among teenage girls," said Frith.

Frith said letters have been sent to retailers about upcoming stings targeting alcohol energy drink sales. He would like to see Virginia follow suit in banning them altogether.

"We're hoping our attorney general will join other attorney's general in asking the USDA in banning these products," said Frith.

Just this week, the Virginia ABC Board issued a letter reminding retailers to use extreme caution when selling alcohol energy drinks.

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