A minor in Massachusetts may not purchase, attempt to purchase, or arrange for someone else to purchase alcoholic liquor on the minor’s behalf, with few exceptions (see below). (Ma. Gen. Laws Ann. 138 Section 34A.) The law also prohibits minors from knowingly possessing, transporting, or carrying alcohol. (Ma. Gen. Laws Ann. 138 Section 34C.) It is also illegal for minors to make false statements about age (or induce others to do so) in order to obtain alcohol. (Ma. Gen. Laws Ann. 138 Section 34A.)
Massachusetts recognizes three exceptions to the general rule prohibiting minors from possessing or consuming alcohol:
A conviction for violating Massachusetts’ minor in possession law is a misdemeanor. (235 ICS 5/6-20(f).) Penalties vary by type of conviction.
Minors may not use fraudulent identification to obtain alcohol, nor may someone furnish fraudulent identification to minors. This offense is a misdemeanor, separate from the crime described above, and carries additional penalties. (Ma. Gen. Laws Ann. 138 Section 34A &B.) Convictions are punishable by either or both of the following:
It is illegal in Massachusetts to furnish alcohol to a minor. This includes supplying, giving, or providing alcohol while having reason to know that the recipient is a minor. This rule applies both to people serving alcohol in licensed establishments, and to people allowing minors to possess alcohol on their private property. A violation of this law is a misdemeanor, punishable with a fine up to $2,000, up to a year in jail, or both (as decided by the sentencing judge). (Ma. Gen. Laws Ann. 138 Section 34.)
However,a person providing alcohol who relies on government issued identification in ascertaining the age of the person requesting alcohol is presumed to have used due care in ensuring that the person being identified is older than 21. This presumption is rebuttable, which means that if, despite the identification, there is evidence that would reasonably lead the provider to believe that the person requesting alcohol was a minor (and the provider served the alcohol anyway), the provider may nonetheless be subject to penalties as described above. (Ma. Gen. Laws Ann. 138 Section 34B.)
State authorities may require any person—employees or customers–in an establishment licensed to sell alcohol to provide identification (including name, age, and address). Any person providing a false name, age, or address; or refusing to supply such information in response to such a request, is guilty of a misdemeanor and can be fined up to $500, as decided by the sentencing judge. (Ma. Gen. Laws Ann. 138 Section 34B.)
Any person violating the minor in possession laws (including rules applying to persons over 21) may be arrested without a warrant by a police officer and held in custody or jail for up to 24 hours (excluding Sundays and legal holidays), until a formal complaint is filed against them. (Ma. Gen. Laws Ann. 138 Section 34B.)
Because local procedures and attitude towards the Massachusetts minor in possession law vary, it is a good idea to consult with a lawyer who is familiar with how these cases are handled in your area. This will give you a better chance of achieving the most favorable outcome under the unique circumstances of your case.