State Law

If you’re not 21, you can’t drink. Simple.


Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission

What forms of identification are acceptable to prove that someone is twenty-one years of age or older, so that person may be served, delivered, or allowed to possess or purchase alcoholic beverages?

If a licensee is charged with permitting the service, delivery, or possession of alcoholic beverages by a person under 21 years of age, under current state law, a licensee has a defense only if the licensee can affirmatively prove that prior to permitting the service, delivery or possession of alcoholic beverages by a person, the licensee requested, was shown, examined and reasonably relied on either:

  1. A valid Massachusetts driver license,
  2. A valid Massachusetts Liquor Identification card,
  3. A valid Passport issued by the United States government, or by the government, recognized by the United States government, of a foreign country,
  4. A valid United States issued active duty Military Identification Card.

Reliance by a licensee on any other form of identification to determine proof of age does not give the licensee a defense.

As of September 1, 2001, neither the state Liquor Control Act nor the regulations of the ABCC require identification to be checked as a condition to selling or delivering an alcoholic beverage to any person. Each licensee is left to decide for itself what policy to establish on checking identification prior accepting orders for, selling and delivering alcoholic beverages. Some licensees adopt a conservative policy, as they may legally do under the Liquor Control Act and the ABCC regulations, and require proof of age from any person who appears to be younger than thirty (30) years of age and accept as proof of age only the four (4) pieces of identification that give a licensee a defense to any criminal.

Therefore, while a licensee may choose to rely upon any form of identification to obtain proof of age, only these four (4) forms of identification provide a defense to a charge of service, delivery, or possession of alcoholic beverages by a person under 21 years of age.

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