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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -
Metro police are going to great lengths to keep alcohol out of the hands of teenagers, and Channel 4 News rode along during a recent undercover mission to combat underaged drinking.
In what could look like an innocent college carpool, the mission began with four people - ranging in age from 18 to 20 - packed into a car.
Except they weren't heading to class. They were on a mission for alcohol.
At store after store, hidden cameras captured video of the youngsters hoping to buy booze. Many times, they were denied, but eventually they got what they're after.
One young person is seen handing a clerk her real identification, which clearly states she is under the age of 21, but the clerk sells her the beer anyway.
A team of undercover officers then walked in and temporarily shut down the store as they charge the man behind the counter.
The arrest is just the start. Next comes lawyer and court fees. The business owner could lose his license, and the clerks could possibly lose their jobs.
Out of 32 stores investigators checked that night, six of them sold beer to the undercover underage buyers.
"I would be very upset if I was a parent and I knew that my child was out there and able to do that," said one undercover Metro police officer.
Police say they aren't out to trick anyone or ruin anyone's life. Actually, they say their real goal is to save lives.
Remember, in most cases, the clerks actually checked the IDs, which had the minors' real birthdates.
This, police say, is a training problem.
"They're checking the IDs, but they're just not doing the right things," one undercover officer said.
It's a training issue they are determined to correct.
"I think that we're making a difference. I think that the word is getting out that this is not something that our community tolerates," said DeWayne Holman, with the Nashville Prevention Partnership. "We want people to obey the law. We want the establishments to obey the laws that we have on the books. We expect them to do that."
Police say you might be surprised to know there is no test to obtain a beer or liquor license. You simply have to check a box saying you understand the law.
Now, some groups are pushing for law changes that would make it tougher to get licenses plus make punishments stiffer for those who have licenses and who don't follow the law, especially repeat offenders.
Copyright 2013 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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