Tuesday, July 22, 2008

"Oh, it's the law!"

I was just at Target, and there were 3 guys in line in front of me. All three were obviously in their 30s, but the cashier wouldn't sell beer to them because only one, the one buying the beer, had his ID. Now, I see some logic behind this -- it prevents me from buying beer for my tagalong little sister. But it also keeps parents from buying a bottle of wine if they happen to have their kids with them.

I asked the cashier if the policy was Target's, or if there is a law about it, and she said "Oh, it's the law!", as if I had asked whether a 12-year old could buy my vodka. Now, I don't really care enough to search Westlaw, but does anyone know the law on this? If two or more people are together and one of them is buying alcohol, do all the people have to be 21 or older?

IN THE COMMENTS: There's an interesting discussion, with several people sharing their experiences with this rule(?). Keep commenting, people. I love the discussions.


Anonymous said...

Seems really unlikely.

What state are you in?

Sharon said...

Alabama, but I saw this happen when I was in college in SC too.

GrayStar said...

You peaked my curiosity so I went to the AL Code and sifted through Title 28 Chapters 1 (General Provisions), Chapter 4 (Regulation in Dry Counties) and Chapter 10 (AL Responsible Vendors Act). It says many times about punishment for selling to someone under the age of 21 but NOTHING about everyone present having to be that age. Unless there is a local ordinance it is not the law in AL.

However, vendors have to "right to refuse service" to anyone as long as it isn't discriminatory so it is probably a store policy, esp. in college towns...but it isn't the law according to the AL Code.

Note: I really hate when people definitively say things when they have no clue what they are talking about... :-)

Anonymous said...

I'm going to guess that cashier was just dumb. I worked at Target for 3 1/2 years and was a guest service team lead for part of that and our store did go through the process of obtaining a liquor license. While there is a Target policy that states if one person in a group of people is purchasing alcohol all IDs must be checked, there is also a general "use your best judgement" rule. We were instructed to ID anyone we felt looked under the age of 35, but if someone appeared significantly older than I was (I'm 23) and did not have their ID, I would not cause a fuss. As far as I remember from my training, there was no law to back up that particular policy.

Anonymous said...

In my experiences (in multiple states), it tends to be related to how ornery the clerk is and the ages of the people with the buyer. A woman with a young child, for example, won't typically be hassled; but a someone in her late 20s with her teenaged kid sister with her will be. For some reason it also seems to be worse for guys. I suppose it ultimately goes to the clerk's perception of the likelihood that the buyer will share their new purchases with the underaged person(s).

On the other hand, I have purchased alcohol on military posts, and there, all of us present DID have to show ID. Not sure if that was a military thing, a store thing, or just power-tripping clerks.

Marie said...

I work in a liquorstore, albeit in Canada. I'll explain how the law is applied at my store, since the policy sounds similar.

Anyone who looks under the age of thirty gets carded. If you are buying something, and you bring your friend(s) in, they must have ID as well if they also look under thirty. You cannot bring your underage siblings or friends in with you - because we assume you are going to provide alcohol to them.

Now, we make exceptions. If you bring your child in, obviously we're not going to prevent you from buying. This is because we assume a responsible parent is not going to provide alcohol to their five year old. Legally, you can't be in a liquorstore without a parent or guardian anyway.

I've been yelled at numerous times for this policy, but the government likes to conduct stings almost constantly. Failing a sting usually means the loss of your job, and/or a hefty fine on the store.

I hope this has been helpful.

marie said...

"Legally, you can't be in a liquorstore without a parent or guardian anyway."

I should probably clarify that this only applies if you're under 18. (The drinking age in Alberta is 18.)

ShelbyP said...

I was a camp counselor at a church camp and went on a midnight Wal-Mart run with a few counselors. I am 31 and they are both 21. The majorly redneck guys in front of us in the looong line were buying Jagermeister, Jack Daniels and Red Bull. They kept talking and hitting on us (as if! Rebel flag shirts?!?) and when we got to the front of the line the cashier would not sell to them because we didn't look 'of age' and she thought we were together. We tried to convince her otherwise, but she would not believe us. So, we all got cussed out by the guys and it made for a waaay uncomfortable walk to the car, past the disgruntled rednecks.

Remmie said...

They should just lower the drinking age to 18 (in the US) and we can all celebrate.