Alcohol Still Easy to Obtain for Youth in Old San Juan

Reducing Underage Drinking Through Coalitions

    • November 13, 2009

On a hot day in August 2005, a representative from RWJF and coalition director Jose Malave took a walk through Old San Juan, a popular tourist destination in San Juan with plenty of bars.

Stepping into one bar at about 2:00 p.m., Malave pointed out a sign that spelled out the rules of the Code of Order, including the requirement to ask for IDs of patrons who looked to be under 18.

Malave asked a bartender about the effects of the Code of Order on his business. The bartender said that the Code of Order had been bad for bars because people could no longer grab a beer and walk down the street with it as they had done in the past. He estimated that enforcing that law had caused his business to drop about 20 to 30 percent.

He did not, however, believe that the Code of Order had had much effect on drinking among underage youth because many businesses were still not checking IDs. Moments later, three young women came in and ordered beers. They looked to be in their mid-teens and not older than 18. The bartender served their drinks without asking any of them for identification.

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