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Underage drinking: Memphis, Jackson measures could spark state law

November 14th, 2011 2:15 pm by Staff Report

Underage drinking: Memphis, Jackson measures could spark state law

NASHVILLE (AP) — A new liquor store ordinance in Memphis and one in the works for Jackson could serve as a model for a state law.

State Rep. Jimmy Eldridge, R-Jackson, said he is drafting a bill to present to the General Assembly in January. The proposal will be similar to an ordinance enacted by the Memphis City Council and one that passed first reading unanimously by the Jackson City Council.

The measures ban anyone under 21 from entering liquor stores without a parent, legal guardian or spouse who is of age.

Jackson liquor store owner Bob Lindsey told The Commercial Appeal the owners of all 12 liquor stores in the city support the Jackson measure (http://bit.ly/vepSjZ ). Lindsey heads the Jackson Wine and Spirits Retailers Association.

He said it's common to see people who are under the legal drinking age of 21 come into stores with an older friend to buy alcohol for them.

"We see this every day — groups of young people come in, a 21-year-old comes in with 18-year-olds, 17-year-olds, and they load up and the 21-year-old makes the purchase," he said.

Lindsey said his former job as a Tennessee state trooper is a factor in his desire to make it harder for minors to obtain alcohol. He recalled working a crash in which three star McNairy County athletes were killed on the night of their high school graduation.

"Are we going to stop underage drinking? No, but this will help," Lindsey said.

Eldridge said he is working on a similar proposal to present to fellow legislators. Meanwhile, Lindsey said there will be a statewide effort to support the idea.

Among those who spoke in support of the Jackson measure on Tuesday was Blake McMeans, who was a rising tennis star when he was driving home from a bar in 1994 and struck a tree. He now campaigns against drunken driving from his wheelchair, addressing school and youth groups.

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Information from: The Commercial Appeal, http://www.commercialappeal.com

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