Ask LH: Do I Need To Show ID To Buy Alcohol If The Seller Knows My Age?

Dear Lifehacker, The other day I attempted to buy wine from a bottle shop but forgot my ID. The cashier refused to serve me point-blank. The thing is, this person went to the same high school as me and they definitely know I'm over 18. In other words, she was just being a dick to me for no reason! Is this discrimination? Thanks, Mean Girl Hater

Bottle shop image from Shutterstock

Dear MGH,

Yeah, nah. As we've explained in a similar Ask LH post, Australian businesses have the right to refuse service for almost any reason. Provided it's inside the law, the merchant can basically set any rule they like.

For it to be deemed discriminatory, the service refusal would need to relate to your race, sexual orientation, gender identity or a disability. Even then, proving that anti-discrimination laws were willfully broken can be quite difficult.

On top of this, you admit you didn't have your ID on you. Selling alcohol to underage patrons is strictly prohibited in Australia. Breaking these laws can result in anything from an on-the-spot fine of $1100 to 12 months in prison.

If the liquor store is being managed responsibly, they will have a strict policy in place that requires all patrons who look under 25 to show their IDs — no exceptions. The fact that the cashier "knows" your age is irrelevant to the manager. Even if she wanted to help you out, the risk of losing her job would be too high.

While it's possible — even probable — that the cashier was acting maliciously towards you, it's still your fault for forgetting your ID. Next time, remember to bring proof-of-age and there shouldn't be any problems.

Cheers Lifehacker

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    "Discrimination! Discrimination! Discrimination!" - The cry of the stupid when things don't go their way.

      It's also the call of the intoxicated... or shoeless.

    in NSW, i believe its Law you need photo ID to enter Licensed premises. under 18 may enter with an adult. fine for the shop is huge and loss of licence!! Not easy to get back!!!!!!!! if you do.

      You can be in a bottle shop at any age - you only need ID to buy.
      Regarding pubs, clubs, and licenced premises, access is dependant on their licence. Specifically , a registered club, cafe, restuarant, or bar may have some parts of the premises that are only accessible to people over the age of 18 (pokie lounges), most bar-service areas, entire strip club, etc.

      Registered clubs have an addtional requirement under their act - if you are over the age of 18 in you must be a member/guest of a member, or carry photo ID with your address to indicate you are outside of the clubs membership area. The old Proof-of-age cards only said you were over 18, and not the address. $1,000 individual fine, $5,000 club fine.

        My local bottle shop has a sign saying that "by law you must be 18 or over to enter, even to buy soft drinks".
        Maybe it varies by location?

          If you're in NSW your local is going above and beyond the NSW state requirements.
          General areas and councils don't have a say - however Kings Cross has some additional rules, and the government has done area-specific trials in the past (Newcastle was a pilot for lock-out laws)

          Here is the legislated NSW signage by licence type -

          Last edited 10/06/16 8:33 am

    So I work for a major chain bottle shop. The rules are you need the ID, if you walk out of the store and are stopped by liquor licensing or the police and are requested to produce ID and you cannot, staff/management/company can all be fined. Its a stupid system but the line had to be drawn in the sand somewhere and this is where it was decided to be (at least in qld).

    The fact that you said you were in high school means you can't of been 18 for very long if it all. Why the hell would you think that you wouldn't need your ID for ANYTHING. So what the cashier goes to your school, did you show her your ID there too? (even if you didn't it's irrelevant)
    Had you of put more effort into being responsible and carrying your ID with you then this wouldn't of happened.

    I'll give you an example...
    I work in a bar and young guys come in all the time. Ones i've even carded before. One day they walk in and I ask to see ID (even if a vaguely remember asking for it before!) Young guy says aw nah I don't have it on me today but you've seen it before?! Still I would refuse service because if someone with authority (liqour licencing, random checks ,etc) They can come in and ask anyone for ID and if they see this young person drinking but no ID can be provided then guess who they come looking for.. ALSO guess who not only loses their job, Right to serve alcohol but also a massive fucking fine.... ME, the person serving. So you see it's just not worth it. I still can't fathom how you don't have your ID with you anyway? do you not have a wallet/purse? hell even those shitty phone covers with room for your cards would be sufficient. Lastly I can't believe you pull the discrimination card! IT WAS YOUR FAULT! and the cashier was doing nothing more than HER JOB.

      I think the OP meant they used to be in high school together, which could have been years ago. Otherwise, agree with all of your points.

        If they are both in their 40s the confirms the malice to it for sure.

        My first thought was "How does OP know that the cashier remembered him? Do they keep in touch or did they have a close relationship?" I've had people spot me randomly in the city saying "Hey, do you remember me? We went to school together". There were over 1000 kids in my school and over 100 of them were in my grade, so unless we dated or were great friends, I don't remember you.

    I went to a Safeway Liquor store with my son (19 yo) and he chose a bottle of rum and handed it to me so I got my card out to pay for it and was refused by the cashier. The cashier said he couldn't sell it to us because my son had chosen it and my son didn't have any ID on him. I thought this was a bit much.

      No. Supplying liquor to a child, even your own, is an offence. If your son can't prove his age, the cashier can't prove you're not supplying liquor to a child...

        In context, not so in NSW:

        (4) Supplying liquor to minors on other premises A person must not supply liquor to a minor on any premises other than licensed premises unless:
        (a) the person is a parent or guardian of the minor or is authorised to supply liquor to the minor by a parent or guardian of the minor, and
        (b) the supply is consistent with the responsible supervision of the minor.

        In context, this is not the case in NSW:

        (4) Supplying liquor to minors on other premises A person must not supply liquor to a minor on any premises other than licensed premises unless:
        (a) the person is a parent or guardian of the minor or is authorised to supply liquor to the minor by a parent or guardian of the minor, and
        (b) the supply is consistent with the responsible supervision of the minor.

    I worked in the liquor section at a supermarket for 6 months after high school and the best part of my day was denying assholes that forgot their ID that I went to school with.
    "Sorry mate, no ID no service, can't help ya"
    "Dude we went to school together for 6 years, you know I'm 18"
    "Do I?"

    Here in Victoria ive not been asked for my ID once in my life.. :|

    Probably should have been nicer to her while you were at school together. She most likely would have let it slide.

    In my opinion Australia has a big problem with similar so-called "nanny state" laws. I saw a ad the other day on the train saying that I could be prosecuted for supplying alcohol to my children. That means that my mum that trained me from an early age what responsible drinking means by giving me a glass of half-beer, half-lemonade twice a year (Christmas and Easter) would be a criminal and probably loose custody of me, yet I came out all right and definitely not an alcoholic. You can see a similar treatment of people for all sorts of things that the state should really have no business in, such as whether one smokes, until what time they can stay out (lock-down) etc. Except from the attack on personal freedom it has turned coffee-shop and pub owners into policemen, and any person who has visited an airport or a place that needs bouncers knows what power trip that causes to ethically weak individuals. I can go on for a long time about similar insults to personal dignity and my two favourite are the so-called metadata retention which treats all citizens as suspects of terrorism and the train platform announcements which every 15 sec on my station will have some sort of condescending announcement such as "are you drinking the worlds most expensive beer?" (ironically the answer is of course yes, regardless of the threatened fine, due to the tax and bottle shop oligopoly). I am sure that if one has not experienced not being treated that way as a citizen, by living in another country, might take issue with that portrayal of our little paradise at the end of the world, however all I am trying to point to is that even this country can be improved and makes plenty of mistakes in public administration.

    You know where she works, be a dick back

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