Can a store manager refuse to sell me alcohol just because my friends appear to be underaged?

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Can a store manager refuse to sell me alcohol just because my friends appear to be underaged?

I was at a 24 hour convenience store, when I noticed there was a 3 for $10 sale on wine. I tried to make my purchase (my friend making their own with a different cashier), and the manager refused to sell it to me unless all of us showed our IDs. I’m the only one paying, on a credit card mind you, so thereisn’t even cash involved to allow for a multi-party payment. He had said that we all needed to be over the legal age and heavily insinuated that because I’m purchasing 3 bottles, that I was opening all of them that night and thus giving it to my friends. Is there anything that I can do?

Asked on August 6, 2011 Virginia

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

All private businesses have the right to refuse service to any potential customer as long as the refusal is not based upon discrimination such as age, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation.

All states have laws where the minimum age to legally purchase and/or consume alcohol is 18 to 21 years of age. There are severe penalties when a store sells alcohol to a minor. There are severe penalties when an adult buys alcohol for a minor.

The store manager where you attempted to legally buy alcohol for yourself was entirely within his rights to refuse to sell you the alcohol thinking that the 3 bottles you were buying were not going to be used for you but perhaps under-aged individuals.

In retrospect, the store manager was even protecting you since it appears he thought you were buying the alcohol for minors from what you have written.


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