Alcohol Legal Question...

Hey everyone… recently a question sprouted up in our family having to do with alcohol. I will provide a little background information…

Several years ago, my grandfather turned 70. We had a very big party for him, and it was at my house. I was 14 at the time, but I acted as a bartender. Nothing serious, just pouring wine for everyone that wanted it, and keeping ice in the cooler… that’s about it. Wasn’t even paid. Anyway… the question is, was that legal? I am not looking to get anyone in trouble, nothing like that… I am just curious. My mom thinks that it was NOT illegal because it was in the privacy of our own home, and the alcohol was not mine, nor did I intend to consume any. I think that it WAS illegal, because I was a minor and the alcohol was technically in my possesion.

I think it is similar to illegal drugs. If there is cocaine in the house, it is still possesion, even if it is in the privacy of your home, and that is what makes me think that I was breakin some laws… it was in my possesion. Unless alcohol IS legal for possession by minors as long as it’s private. Thanks for any help…

It varies from state to state. In my state, Oregon, it is legal for minors with parental supervision and at home to consume or possess alcohol. However, in Pennsylvania a minor cannot possess or consume alcohol under any circumstances without breaking the law (AFAIK).

He’s talking about serving alcohol though, not consuming it.

From what I can tell from the hiring practices in Illinois, it appears to be illegal for a minor to sell alcohol (or more specifically, ring up for sale - under-21 cashiers in grocery stores have to have someone 21+ scan the alcohol items), but not to serve alcohol, as at least one bar I’ve gone to has under-21 waitresses but not bartenders.

Check a website for your state government, they may have a listing of various laws that you could check through.

:smack: Sorry, just noticed the “possess” parts of the statements, however there may be an allowance for bartending/serving alcohol rather than simply having possession of it for one’s personal use or distribution. Being a bartender and handling alcohol is different from owning a bottle of it.

I wanna know who you think will turn you in?

If it really is a problem for you, refuse to do it in the future and warn your parents now about your decision.


If your state is one that allows consumption with parental consent, then it would make sense if you’d be allowed to serve it under parental consent in a private setting, too. I never looked into the laws in my province (Quebec) but my parents let us drink when we were under age (wine with a meal, but they also knew we drank away from home, but thats a whole other story), and it was pretty common for us to pour the wine ourselves. But like GusNSpot said, who is going to turn you in? I think it would have to be a VERY picky cop to do much about it other than issue a warning, if it is even illegal in your state.

IMHO, of course.

In California, the drinking age is 21, but you can bartend (but not drink) at 18.

Sorry GusNSpot, I suppose I wasn’t clear enough in the OP. I am not worried about anything at all… like I aid, it was several years ago, and I have no moral objections having done so. I am simply curious about the answer as I said before. Thanks for the responses everyone…

In Maryland, there are no exceptions for private property, I don’t believe.

As far as commercial businesses go, a person can be 18 and serve a alcoholic drink, but they’re not allowed to prepare it. This not only prohibits them from mixing a liquor drink; they’re also not allowed to pour a glass of beer from the tap. They’re not even allowed to take the beercap off the bottle. The bartender or manager has to do this for them.

I remember this vividly from when I worked at Pizza Hut during my senior year of high school. This particular one served beer and wine, but as it happened to be, none of the waiters or waitresses were 21. Anytime someone ordered a drink, they had to tell the manager, and he had to pour the glass of wine, or fill pitcher or glass with beer, and then hand it to them so they could take it to the table.

Utterly stupid really, but that’s why our legislators get paid…

I’m reminded of the scene from Auntie Mame where the young Dennis makes martinis for the Child Services workers who are there to see what his home life is like…