Alcohol Delivery Apps Bring Booze Via Smartphone

Growing up, many of us delighted in the occasional pizza delivery on a weekend night. Packages from the postman arrived when faraway relatives sent birthday and holiday gifts. The term “app” was an abbreviation for “appetizer.”

But in 2018, cardboard boxes are a front-porch staple, and we expect most of our products to be delivered in a matter of days. Delivery apps cut that time down to hours or minutes, bringing groceries, restaurant food, drivers, and household goods to our front doors in no time. It is no surprise that there’s a fast-growing market for alcohol delivery, too.

It’s also no surprise that delivery apps make it easier for underage drinkers to get alcohol through delivery services than from bars or retail stores. The bottom line is that these apps create greater and easier access to alcohol, which is the exact opposite of what we need to do to reduce and prevent underage drinking.

A recent Austin American-Statesman story reported that “in a handful of sting operations conducted by Texas regulators, people younger than the legal drinking age of 21 were able to obtain alcohol using app-based delivery services at more than twice the rate generally found in similar sting operations conducted in bars and liquor stores.”

Until recently, alcohol delivery has predominantly consisted of high-end wine sales; youth aren’t exactly the target market for this kind of online alcohol purchasing.

Now, mobile apps like Drizly and Postmates promise fast alcohol delivery – from beer to bourbon – to our front doors. With smart phones in the hands of roughly 4 in 5 youth, this type of direct shipment to private residences is just a download away for your junior high, high-school, or underage college student.

In this convenience economy, there are many questions that still need to be answered about this new delivery model: Who should be licensed? How do you prevent access by minors?  Who is held accountable for violations?

Ultimately, it will be up to our lawmakers to establish a regulatory framework that addresses public safety, and Texans Standing Tall will be working to make sure future policies address prevention and limit youth access.

As we continue to follow the issue, we will keep everyone updated on what we learn. So, if you haven’t already, make sure to follow us on social media, subscribe to our newsletter, or reach out to us at any time with questions or for more information. And, if you’re alarmed about how these delivery apps increase youth access and would like to get involved by providing testimony during any hearings on the topic, contact Atalie at ANitibhon@TexansStandingTall.org.

Postmates Looks to Expand Alcohol Delivery Service to Texas Cities

In select cities across the country, youth will soon have the ability to throw an underage drinking party in 25 minutes or less thanks to the Postmates service beefing up its selection of products offered. In the coming months, the startup delivery service is planning to partner up with more liquor and corner stores to get alcohol to its customers in its promised time of 25 minutes.

Postmates is a delivery service app available in major cities across the country, including Austin, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and West Lake Hills. Sort of like Lyft, consumers can download the app on their phones and have groceries and other food items delivered right to their front door. The company’s call to expand comes as they approach the milestone of reaching a billion dollars in gross merchandise revenue. In Austin, Postmates will begin to compete with the alcohol delivery services like BrewDrop (now a part of Delivery.com) and Drizly, who get around selling alcohol through a regulated brick and mortar establishment by acting as a connection between the store and the customer. The apps list the inventory available and the customer selects what they want. The alcohol is then delivered by the liquor store employees.

These companies must hold a permit through the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC), like what FedEx and UPS hold, where the company proves to TABC that its drivers who deliver alcohol have been through a certifies training course. The course trains sellers of alcohol beverages how to identify intoxicated individuals and refusing to sell minors to alcohol.

The expanded service is rolling out in San Francisco and Los Angeles first, but the company plans to expand it to other cities in the coming months. There’s just one little problem with Postmates’ push for more revenue: it will be yet another way for underage youth to get their hands on alcohol.  The Texas Department of State Health Service’s 2014 Texas School Survey reports 24% of middle and high school students get their alcohol from their home, 28% report getting alcohol from their friends and 32% report getting it from parties. It is completely nonsensical for companies to offer any services that will make it easier for youth to get alcohol. This service is likely to deliver alcohol to young adults hosting parties where underage drinkers are present.

Current Texas law applies to all alcohol delivery services. For example, liquor stores cannot deliver outside of business hours, and ID has to be shown to delivery drivers. Still, young people are crafty and can find a way around these flimsy checks. Drivers can be held criminally accountable if they are found to have to delivered alcohol to minors. Adults at parties are also subject to Texas’ criminal statutes around providing alcohol to minors, but criminal cases have a higher burden of proof. The high burden of proof associated with criminal cases is why civil social host ordinances are so effective for preventing underage alcohol. A civil social host ordinance works because it has a lower burden of proof and it is swift, certain and severe. Underage party hosts will be charged with an appropriate fine for the community and will be cited on the spot. Here at Texans Standing Tall, we are constantly working to raise awareness among parents, guardians, and our partners about the risks of underage alcohol use; with technology constantly easing access to alcohol, it is hard for us, let alone laws, to keep up. This is where a social host ordinance is most effective.

A social host ordinance holds individuals accountable for providing the location where underage drinking takes place. San Antonio is the only city in Texas where apps similar to Postmates are available and has a social host ordinance in place.

Alcohol leads to a variety of negative consequences like violence, sexual assault, unplanned sexual activity, property damage, and alcohol poisoning. However, those things often get overlooked when $10 million — the magic number Postmates is hoping to generate in 2017 as it expands its alcohol delivery services — is within reach. Is anybody else tired of hearing that money is the driving force behind new products, services, and technologies that make alcohol more accessible to youth? We certainly are tired of seeing our youth sold out for a bottom line and profits.

To learn more about how a social host ordinance would help keep our youth safe and healthy, read about San Antonio’s social host ordinance on our blog and visit TexansStandingTall.org for more information.