General Question

gunther's avatar

Is it illegal to buy alcohol if you are under 21, or just to sell it?

Asked by gunther (169points) July 28th, 2009

If someone under the age of 21 attempts to purchase alcohol, can they get into any legal trouble, or is it only illegal for the clerk to sell it? If you can get into trouble for trying to buy it, or for buying it, what are the minimum and maximum punishments. I live in New York, but I’m curious about other places as well.

I don’t smoke, but just out of curiosity, how about tobacco products?

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21 Answers

Likeradar's avatar

You’d be a minor in possession, which is illegal.

MrGV's avatar

You have to be atleast 21 to handle any alcohol

Facade's avatar

I was wondering this too. Often times I don’t buy the wine, but I drink it lol

efritz's avatar

Yes, it’s illegal for a minor to be in possession of alcohol. Otherwise cops couldn’t bust your party.

I’m not sure about NY, but in my state you can buy tobacco once you’re 18.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

You must be 21 to purchase and drink alcohol. You can get an MIP, but more likely than not, the person who sold it to you would get into much more trouble. They could face fines and jail time. In order to purchase cigarettes or anything similar, you have to be 18 – no exceptions.

johnny0313x's avatar

You might get an under age and possible revoked driving privileges. Not sure if they would do anything if you already have your license but if you don’t they might say you can’t get it until you are 18. Possibly a fine too…

Sueanne_Tremendous's avatar

It is absolutely ok for you to try to buy alcohol. Everyone knows this. Go for it.

westy81585's avatar

Maybe this is just Ohio, but I’m almost positive you can “handle” alcohol if you’re at least 18 (or maybe it’s 19) here. AS LONG AS, it is sealed, and has never been opened. This has been the widely confirmed stance I have noticed over the years. I was told by many elder relatives (who admittedly aren’t lawmen, but have experiences on the matter) that I could carry alcohol in my car, so long as it were sealed.

But as to your actual question, NO one under 21 can purchase or sell in this country. Which personally I think is a ridiculously stupid law… but that’s an entire different conversation.

AllBeefPatty's avatar

There is no direct punishment against TRYING to purchase alcohol, unless, of course, you try to use a fake id. As someone who sells alcohol, I have seen kids get busted for this by the police, who then give them a ticket and confiscate the id. Lots of lost money, no alcohol.

YARNLADY's avatar

In the US it is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to buy, sell, possess, or drink alcohol.

amaris's avatar

I believe you can possess it only if it is completely sealed and if it’s in your car, but it must be in the trunk. I’m not sure about having it in your house, but I can’t think of many in situations where a cop would be looking for alcohol in your house unless they’re breaking up a party. Other than that, it’s illegal to buy it but not to sell it from an establishment. I live in FL and know some <21 year olds that work in bars and liquor stores or restaurants that serve alcohol.

YARNLADY's avatar

@amaris Here in California, any underage workers are not allowed to serve alcohol. At restaurants, they must ask an older person to serve the drinks, and in stores, they cannot sell it.

Allie's avatar

It’s not against the law for you to attempt to buy alcohol, but it most certainly is against the law for a clerk to sell it to you. If you do get it, it would be against the law for you to have it in your possession.
I’m not sure how true this is, but I heard that if you are at your own house you can drink at age 18 and it would still be legal given that you stay on your property. Anyone know anything about this?

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

You can’t buy it if you’re not 21. If a minor asked an undercover cop to buy them beer, they’re going for a ride. It’s worse for the merchants though as it should be.

kellsworth's avatar

It’s illegal. But what we used to do, was ask a nearby homeless person to buy it for us. They’ll do it for a dollar or two. There’s many of other ways to get intoxicated for easier too if you’re creative. Prisoners use potatoes to make liquor in prison, so it can’t be too hard at all to find alternate ways to get inebriated.

potrick's avatar

In most states, you cannot handle or drink alcohol if you are under the age of 21. If you live near the border, though, its perfectly legal for you to have alcohol in your system…if you have the wits to claim you consumed it outside the country. Of course, this depends on you being of legal age in the neighboring country…

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

@kellsworth they also make a cheap form of booze from raisins.

gunther's avatar

Ok, so if I try to buy some booze and they ask for ID, I can just say “Oh never mind” and try someplace else? But if I used a fake ID, or asked someone else to buy it for me I could possibly get into some kind of trouble?

And if I am successful, I just have to make it home without getting stopped by a cop?

And with cigarettes the same deal? Can you have cigarettes in your possession at all if you are under 18? I see kids smoking outside school who are obviously under 18… and the cops don’t do anything. Is this because they can’t (laws only have to do with selling,) or just because they don’t feel like it?

@Kellsworth and @evelyns_pet_zebra: Not to sound snobby, but if it’s a matter of either not having booze, or having homemade booze made from potatoes and raisins, I’ll opt for no booze thankyouverymuch;)

YARNLADY's avatar

Unfortunately, the alcohol laws give an unwarranted attraction to the drinking of alcohol. It’s not the open door to complete enjoyment that many people expect.

mattbrowne's avatar

Depends on the continent you live.

ItsAHabit's avatar

It is illegal in every state in the US for a person under age 21 to purchase or possess (with a number of specific exceptions) alcoholic beverages. However, it is not illegal for them to consume alcohol in many states! Source:

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