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Masks & Checking IDs for Alcohol Sales During COVID-19

wine bottles, alcohol
Masks & Checking IDs for Alcohol Sales During COVID-19

Impacts of Mask Requirements on ‘Carding’ During the Pandemic

In most states across the US, people are wearing masks to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. While a significant amount of people adhere to their county’s mask mandates, others use such protocol as an opportunity to purchase alcohol products illegally. To purchase such products in California, a person must be 21 years of age or older and present a valid ID to the seller to complete the transaction legally.

However, many sellers are having trouble identifying purchasers of alcohol and tobacco because masks obstruct identifying facial features such as the nose and mouth. As such, “carding” customers safely is a growing concern for sellers and customers alike. To better resolve this challenge, retailers report utilizing alternatives to the typical interaction process with purchasers of alcohol and tobacco products. They include:

  • Exercising their right to refuse purchase or delivery to a customer
  • Requesting customers to display both sides of their ID against the glass barrier at the counter, or against their car window for pickup orders
  • For pickup orders, requesting customers to lower their masks while holding their ID at eye-level
  • Asking customers to place their ID on the counter or hold it up to allow the retailer to scan it
  • If the customer is willing, as them to step back at a safe distance and lower their mask for in-store purchases
  • Asking questions to confirm the identity of the purchasers
  • Examining identifying details on the customer’s ID, such as hair/eye color, height, weight, sex, and birthday

With this information in mind, you should comply with a retailer’s requests when trying to purchase alcohol, or else they may refuse to sell to you. This is because retailers may face criminal charges or even lose their license if law enforcement discovers that they sold to a person under 21 years old. Worse, retailers may press charges against you if you are under 21 and attempt to purchase alcohol, resulting in threats to your freedom, career, and personal life.

Laws Governing Alcohol Sales to Minors in CA

As mentioned above, retailers and customers may face professional and legal consequences for violating California’s underage drinking laws. According to California BPC 25658:

  • Every person who sells, furnishes, gives, or causes to be sold, furnished, or given away, any alcoholic beverage to any person under the age of 21 years is guilty of a misdemeanor
  • Any person under 21 who purchases any alcoholic beverage or consumes any alcoholic beverage in any on-sale premises, is guilty of a misdemeanor

Any person under the age of 21 years who attempts to purchase any alcoholic beverage from a licensee, or the licensee’s agent or employee, is guilty of an infraction and will be punished by a $250 fine and/or be required to perform 24 to 32 hours of community service when the person is not employed or attending school. A second violation will warrant a $500 and/or 36 to 48 hours of community service.

In addition, any person who furnishes an alcoholic beverage to a minor will suffer $1,000 fines and be required to complete 24 hours of community service when that person is not employed or attending school. Liquor licenses may get suspended or revoked, resulting in devasting professional impacts for a convicted seller.

Accused of Violating CA Underage Drinking Laws? We Can Help.

If you or someone you know is facing criminal charges for underage alcohol possession or consumption, or for selling, furnishing, or giving away alcohol to an underage person, it is in your best interests to retain an experienced attorney who has a proven track record for helping clients get their charges reduced or dropped altogether.

Our Oakland criminal defense attorney at the Law Office of Nabiel C. Ahmed understands that people make mistakes, however, we believe that your future and freedom should not be negatively impacted as a result. Thus, we strongly advise you to act fast and contact us online or at (510) 907-6600 to discuss your situation and learn about your legal defense options.

Our mission is to help you overcome your accusations as smoothly and stress-free as possible.