Online food delivery service DoorDash just made it more difficult for underaged people to have alcohol delivered. The company announced a new two-step ID verification process for alcohol delivery they claim sets a “new industry standard for responsible alcohol delivery.” How does the rest of the food/drink delivery industry stack up? Which services offer the best protection for parents who want to keep their kids from getting illicit booze deliveries?
All major delivery services for both restaurant meals and groceries that I am aware of require drivers to check IDs upon delivery of alcohol. Most also require drivers to take a picture of the ID, which is checked electronically for authenticity.
The drivers, then, are the weak link in the underage alcohol delivery chain. If IDs aren’t being verified electronically, drivers are essentially being asked to determine whether they’re real or fake, whether they belong to the person presenting them, and whether customers are too drunk to have alcohol delivered to them. None of this necessarily easy to do, but drivers and restaurants may nevertheless be liable for screwing it up.
DoorDash: Their dual ID verification means that in order to have alcohol delivered, you must first upload your ID to the company, then present it when your driver arrives. They will scan the front of the card and only leave the items if your ID checks out. You can also opt-out of alcohol delivery to your address entirely. DoorDash drivers will also look for signs of intoxication and not deliver the goods if the person taking delivery is visibly over-intoxicated.
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InstaCart: Upon delivery of alcohol, grocery delivery services InstaCart also requires drivers to scan the front and back identification cards, and sometimes manually enter information from it. They will not deliver alcohol to visibly intoxicated people either. As with all alcohol delivery, the specifics may vary from state to state.
UberEats: UberEats was investigated by the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control in the early days of the pandemic soon after it started offering cocktail and beer/wine deliveries in some markets. Reportedly, drivers in Cali were delivering drinks without checking IDs, without the required food orders, and in open containers. UberEats’ alcohol delivery policy requires customers to present a valid government-issued photo ID to drivers, who will then scan both sides of it in order to check authenticity. They’ll also make sure you’re not intoxicated. If your order is sent back, you could be charged a restocking fee. Drivers are instructed to not deliver alcohol to public places, or to schools (including collage campuses) and prisons.
GrubHub: Restaurant delivery service GrubHub only offers alcohol delivery in Cook County in Illinois, and in New York State. In New York, the company only delivers beer. Although it offers drivers some guidance on how to check the validity of an ID and signs of intoxication, GrubHub does not require a scan—you just have to electronically sign to accept delivery. GrubHub doesn’t deliver to schools, college campuses, prisons, storage facilities, or liquor stores.
Drizly: In the 31 states where it operates, Drizly only delivers alcohol and alcohol-adjacent products like mixers and ice. Its drivers will ask for and scan ID proving you’re over 21. “Proprietary Drizly technology” will check the validity of ID by scanning the barcode on your license. If you can’t/won’t produce a valid ID, your order will be returned and a restocking fee may be charged.
If you’re fortunate enough to live in a state where weed is legal, there are no doubt a ton of companies eager to bring it to your door. State law in California, the largest legal-weed state, requires a valid ID be presented to marijuana delivery drivers, but doesn’t require verification beyond the driver’s inspection. Reportedly, many delivery services don’t ask for ID at all.
If your teenager really wants to get their hands on some hard seltzer while you’re not home, there are delivery options outside of DoorDash and UberEats, and these smaller services and individual restaurant and grocery stores probably don’t have the strict ID requirements of the major players. While any business is no doubt be legally required to check ID (in a state where it’s even legal to deliver alcohol), how meticulous the stores, restaurants, and drivers actually are will vary greatly. If a business is ignoring the law and serving minors, I’ll bet your teenager will find out about it before you do.
In the absence of a delivery service for alcohol, your kid may turn to the old-fashioned alcohol procurement method of hanging around outside a liquor store and asking skeezy looking reprobates to buy for them. If so, at least they’ll be getting some fresh air and meeting new people.