Does that energy drink give a Boost or a Buzz? - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Does that energy drink give a Boost or a Buzz?

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February 25, 2008

Albany -- Energy drinks are all the rage right now, especially with teens. Now, there's a new breed of energy drinks out there that not only give you a boost, they can get you buzzed.

Some of them contain up to eight percent alcohol, that's more than most cans of beer.

Red Bull gives you wings. Monster unleashed the beast inside. These brands have carved a market for high energy drinks.

"The kids love them. I go through on the Monster's... I go through about six to eight cases a week. Red Bull same thing," says Express Lane Manager Gina Brown.

"My daughter drinks them on her way to work in the morning," said Patricia Hudgins.

"My husband and I do," says Mary Francis Paramore

But now, there are new brands on the market like Sparks, Budweiser Extra, and Tilt and they guess what?  "Would you be surprised to know one of these has alcohol in them? "Oh really, no I didn't know that," says Hudgins. 

 "I thought it was just something that would give you energy, and not have alcohol in it at all," Paramore says.

Even law enforcement officers didn't know.  "It was news to me that the energy drinks had come out with alcohol in them," said Albany Dougherty Drug Unit Commander Major Derrell Smith. 

In most cases, the alcohol content in these energy drinks is much higher than the alcohol content in most beer. "I found that there were some of the drinks that had anywhere from five to eight percent of alcohol in them," Smith says.

 The Georgia Department of Revenue's Alcohol and Tobacco Division requires the alcohol infused energy drinks to be kept with beer products and clerks are required to ask for the proper ID. That's what we found when we tried to buy a Budweiser Extra at Woodall's. I got carded. 

"The registers will prompt the cashier to check for an ID, so they immediately know it's an alcoholic beverage, and that's kind of hard for them to overlook," says Wright Woodall.

Twenty six percent of businesses in Georgia however fail to card people. When our sister TV station in Columbus tried the same thing, six of the 15 places didn't ask for the agent's ID, and the clerks offered a variety of explanations:

"I didn't pay attention."
"I forgot the energy drink had alcohol in it."

"He looked old enough I guess."

Some stores in south Georgia like the Express Lane in Leesburg who have a lot of teen customers say selling the alcoholic version is just too risky. 

"It's too hard to have to worry about them coming up there and trying to get by you with one that has alcohol, so I just don't carry it, then I don't have to worry about someone coming in here and you know, not everybody cards like they're supposed to, and it's not a chance I care to take," says Express Lane Manager Gina Brown

"Our biggest concern initially was the distinction between a regular energy drinks and an alcoholic energy drink,"  Wright Woodall said.

 It's a distinction law enforcement is now aware of and one they say they'll be checking during spot checks. "Stores have to be on notice that those that have alcohol in them they fall under the same criteria as other alcohol drinks," said Chief Smith. That means if they're not checking ID's they risk getting caught and over a period of time they could lose their alcohol license.

While the Albany Dougherty Drug Unit did not include the alcohol energy drinks in their most recent spot checks last week, they say now that's it's been brought to their attention they'll be checking for it in the future.

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