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

UPDATED: Aug 6, 2011

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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


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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