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Under Age Drinking

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ST. LOUIS, MO. (KPLR) - Your kids may already know where they can get alcohol before they`re 21.  But do you.  The FOX Files went undercover to St. Louis Bars.  Investigator Chris Hayes reveals how our tests surprised even college students.

Downtown St. Louis on the Landing.  We asked FOX2 interns Kamron Taylor and Madison Burke to help us test bars.  They both have drivers' licenses stamped in red under 21.

19 year old Kamron was so nervous, she didn`t even know what beer to ask for.

"I was like ok; I’m going to just randomly say one."

At the very first test at this tent, a Big Daddy`s server gave them both a beer without asking for ID.

"My heart was pounding, I could not believe this lady was about to give me a beer."

Madison turns 21 at the end of this year.

"I thought I’d at least get a second look or at least get carded but she didn't even look at me a second time."

Next, the girls approached a beer tent for `TIF`s on the Landing. `This time the server checked ID`s, yet she still handed Madison a beer.  

"My birthday is 20-12 so I guess we could give her the benefit of the doubt and say she only looked at the year."

"She’s looking at her id, it says under 21 in bold red writing and she's getting away with it, I was just dumbfounded."

When the server looked at Kamron`s license, she did turn her away.

We went back to big daddy`s where a bouncer now appeared to be checking every id just to get inside.  Not Madison and Kamron, they walked right in and the bouncer appeared to watch them.

Our fourth test at Fusion nightclub, a bouncer checked both IDs and politely said 'only 21 and over.'

For the night, the 19 and 20 year olds were in a position of getting alcohol in 5 out of 8 chances.

Kamron`s mom, Tammy, was reading text messages from her daughter during our test.

"She said "success" and I’m like "oh. My. Gosh."

"I was hopeful that you wouldn`t -- and to me you know, she looks young to me."

We came back to the bars that failed our test, offered to show them our undercover video so they could identify their servers and tell you what they`re going to do about it.  Both bars said 'no.'

Though the bars aren`t talking, Kamron’s mom says this is a good time for parents to speak up.

"I was her age before, I’m not naive, I know it's readily accessible and clearly from the test - fairly easy -- my counsel to her is always, ok, if you're going to go there, we hope you're not going to go there, but if you are we need to be safe, you don't want to drive, you need to do that in a controlled environment."

Florissant PD uses grant money to test bars.  But Missouri legislators recently tightened the rules.
Officer Andy Haarmann explains how they can`t just use any minor.

They're not allowed to have facial hair, provocative clothing for the women- we even have to go so far -- before we send somebody out we have to show their photograph to ten different people.

Those ten people must agree the tester *looks underage.

"Does that hurt what you're trying to do? [police] no it really helps us, we also have to audio or video record it and all the parameters - what we have to do really does help us in court."

Some businesses are using technology to stop under aged drinking.  It`s automatic when a Walgreens clerk scans alcohol - a screen asks `customer under 40? ` If they hit `yes...`

I can`t go further without asking for identification [you`ve got to ask me for my id]
I have to ask you, if you look under 40, I ask for id.

I simply scan the id and we`re ready to go.

Advances in technology - and newer ids with *clear markings - mean fewer excuses for not following the law.

Though Big Daddies declined to look at our undercover video - the bar's attorney send us this letter

For the FOX Files, I’m Chris Hayes.