Legislators to vote on a bill aimed at curbing underage drinking

Legislators to vote on a bill aimed at curbing underage drinking (Image 1)

Tennessee legislators could make it illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to enter a liquor store, even if they do not try to purchase anything.

The proposed bill has exceptions for those minors accompanied by their parents, spouse who is of age or a legal guardian.

The bill would also make it illegal for those visibly intoxicated to enter a liquor store.

Nashville's News 2 spoke with area liquor store owners and managers on Monday regarding the bill.

Like many other liquor store owners, Emad Kaldess of Champion Discount Liquor, said he already enforces much of what is in the bill and that he already prohibits those under 21 from entering his business unless that person is a child accompanied by a parent.  

Dan Hutchinson, the manager of the Wine Shoppe at Green Hills, said underage visitors are rare at his store, as are intoxicated patrons.

“They're essentially enforcing policies that are already in place,” said Hutchinson, adding, “I don't mind that is being done. I don't think it will change all that much.”

The bill would require retailers to post the law near the entrance; however, it would not subject them to any fines or prosecution if they do not.

“In the long run it's probably a good thing, but it doesn't affect our day to day operations in any way,” said Hutchinson.

Representative Jimmy Eldridge (R-Jackson), the sponsor of the House bill, said underage drinking costs the state more than $1 billion dollars per year.

He believes this is a small step in the right direction.

“If it saves one life, just one life, then that it's done a lot of good for the citizens in the state of Tennessee.”

The bill will come up for a vote in the House and Senate Monday evening.

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