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Internet Alcohol Sales

Two bills pending in the Florida Legislature would ease restrictions on selling wine and liquor online. The possibility of all those online sales is giving Florida's liquor industry the jitters.

Four times in the last week and a half, a package delivery truck has come to 20-year-old Clay Richardson’s apartment. The non-drinking college student volunteered to help his bosses, a PR firm representing Florida liquor wholesalers, who wanted to show how easy it was for underage people to buy booze over the Internet.

Using his dad's credit card, Richardson bought liquor or wine online from four sites, including one that said it would not deliver in Florida.

One package was clearly marked saying it needed an adult signature, yet no one checked ID. The return addresses on other boxes were like brown paper wrappers. John Fleming helped organize the sting.

John says, "Yeah what’s to stop them? I mean, really there is nothing to stop them from doing this. All you need is a valid credit card number."

It's already against Florida law to ship liquor or wine into the state without first going through a wholesaler, and the wholesalers in this turf war want to keep it that way. The industry has enlisted law enforcement to help it fight two bills that would ease alcohol sales over the internet.

Bill Herrle of the Florida Retail Federation says, "The regulatory structure works because it holds retailers accountable."

The liquor industry is hoping that the online purchases will persuade state lawmakers to leave the current law alone.

Gov. Bush says he wants to get rid of the law that prohibits Internet wine sales, and bills have already been filed in the Florida Legislature to do just that.


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