More alcohol getting sold to minors

More alcohol getting sold to minors »Play Video
TRI-CITIES. Wash. -- A change in the law made alcohol available at your nearest grocery store, Target, and Walmart.

It came with the promise that it wouldn't put booze into the hands of kids.

But KEPR found that's not the case. In the year since since Initiative 1183 was passed, more places have been busted for selling to minors in both Franklin and Benton County.

Barbara Hall doesn't mince words when it comes to businesses selling alcohol to minors.

"I hate it. I think it's a huge issue. So many people are affected by it. So many kids are affected by it," she says.

She was one of the many people who didn't believe the hype about Initiative 1183. Barbara thought that by putting the state out of the liquor industry -- it would make alcohol more available to minors.

"It's become so much easier for kids to get it, to be served to them, and to buy it or to steal it," she added.

Barbara doesn't seem to be far off.

W filed a public records request with the state liquor control board asking how many violations each county had. In Benton County, before Initiative 1183, there were 31 violations for all of 2011.
In 2012, there were 41. Already a higher number as the law took effect in June. So far this year there have been 30. Pacing to have the highest number of violations in the last three years.

Franklin County has a similar story. Just a dozen violations in 2011.
That jumped to 42 last year. While I reached out to some of the businesses on the list, they declined to talk about why they received violations.

And when we reached to three groups on each side of the for and against 1183 campaign -- no one returned our calls.

One convenience store worker says she always checks IDs because it's not worth losing her job.

"Even if they look old, I still check IDs. You never know, they could have a beard and they could be under age," say Lily Caldera, a convenience store clerk.

She might have the right attitude, but the numbers still show, wider access to alcohol has come at the same time of wider access to minors.

Most underage sales happened at convenience stores and most only had to be busted once to make changes. Under state law, clerks could be fired if they're caught selling to minors.