Buying Alcohol Online Just a Simple Click for Kids

Nicole Ebat

OMAHA(KPTM)-- Beer, wine, whiskey or gin--it doesn't matter what your drink of choice is, most of us can agree kids shouldn't be able to get their hands on it.

But today's digital age is making it a lot easier for them to do that.

There are thousands of web sites online selling alcohol and shipping it directly to the door. By law, the delivery driver is required to check ID, but that doesn't always happen.

Mekenzie is a bright, 14-year-old, Omaha teen who, like other kids her age, is constantly on her iPad or iPhone.

We asked Mekenzie, with her parent's permission, to order alcohol from three different web sites.

All it took was a flick of{}the finger across the screen and a few minutes before she was adding a bottle of booze to her cart and clicking enter.

The first site did ask for her birthday.

"I made up a year that I was born and they didn't know that," said Mekenzie.

The other two sites merely told her to click a box, certifying that she was older than 21.

Then with a credit card and a few more clicks, the alcohol was on its way.

"It's very concerning," said Susie, Mekenzie's mother. "It makes me very nervous. I didn't have a clue before this that kids could do this and it makes me very nervous that they could just be able to get alcohol this easily."

There are plenty of parents out there who don't know how easy it can be to get alcohol online, but Omaha's Project Extra Mile has been keeping its eyes on the problem.

"It's really easy to type in a 21 or older birthday, it's too simple to get around," said Nicole Carritt, Executive Director for Project Extra Mile. "Really the alcohol control policies and enforcement are being outpaced by the technologies. It's constantly changing, constantly."

The group has been advocating for stricter marketing techniques and updated legislation.

Sergeant Robert Elliott with the Nebraska State Patrol Investigative Services has been working on liquor enforcement for years.

He says the office hasn't been able to run compliance checks for online purchases because of the sheer amount of man-power it would take.

But he also thinks the logistics most teens would have to work around to actually get their hands on the delivery would keep most away from that method.

He points out teens would have to risk not knowing when the package would be{}delivered and then not getting the alcohol if the delivery driver asks for ID.

"From what I've seen, it's easier to get{}the older siblings or a co-worker to go to the retailer and get it for them or for them to get these fake ID's online," he said.

He says the kids are likely to go with the easiest route, but for a teenager's perspective.

"I know people that if I tell them about this they are going to think that it's really easy and they're obviously going to go try it, so I think it should be harder to get," said Mekenzie.

Barely a week after Mekenzie put her order in, a delivery driver was at the family's door step.

The first time, no one was home and the package went back to the truck.

The second time, Mom answered the door.

"He said, you know I need your signature for these packages and you're obviously 21 so you can go ahead and sign for these packages," said Susie.

She says if Mekenzie had been home to answer the door, she thinks the delivery driver would have checked her ID for at least two of the packages because they were clearly and boldly marked that adult signature was required.

But a box containing a bottle of vodka was a different story.

"This one does not say anything, this one says nothing it says Gourmet Pantry, has our address, this does not have a single label on it that says anything about checking ID, not one thing," said Susie.

Fox 42 contacted that company asking what happened and how Mekenzie was even able to purchase the alcohol in the first place. They sent us a statement saying:

"We have a very strict policy of requiring a signature and all of our packages go out this way. We will look into this matter immediately and resolve any error in the shipping department which may have allowed this to happen."

We pushed for further statement on background measures that would prevent minors from ordering the alcohol, but the company did not reply.

Mekenzie did not get her hands on any alcohol, but the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill recently conducted a study testing online alcohol purchases.

Out of 100 attempts to purchase alcohol online{}by minors, 45 were delivered successfully, 28 failed because of ID checks and 27 had order issues and were never delivered.

Nearly 50% of the tests{}resulted in{}minors getting their hands on alcohol and{}they barely had to lift a finger.

One obstacle many parents may think would stop this is the need of a credit card to place the order. Mekenzie thought of that too:

"I have a debit card so I could just use that, or you know how you can buy gift cards? You could just buy that and then actually just{}go home and use it--take your babysitting money and put it on a gift card and buy your alcohol," she said.

Both UPS and Fedex say they have strict policies in place to prevent{}drivers from delivering to minors.{}