Drinking and driving is a serious problem in Massachusetts. Although there are rules in place to limit the occurrence of drinking and driving, it still happens. There are more things that can be done to make drunk driving less of an issue. For one, liquor stores could refuse service to intoxicated customers. Find out how this could change things and whether or not it is legal.

Liquor Stores and Refusal of Service

If you walk into a liquor store, then you walk into a private business. As such, that business can refuse service to you for any reason. You might notice signs that say “we reserve the right to refuse any service.” Those signs are reminders that, as private businesses, liquor stores can send you away. If they don’t want to serve you, then they don’t have to serve you.

This means that your liquor store can refuse to serve you because you are too drunk. If you show up intoxicated, the cashier could send you away. However, he has no legal obligation to do so. In Massachusetts, there is no law that says a liquor store must turn away a drunk customer. The choice is entirely up to the cashier and store owner.

However, most liquor stores do sell to intoxicated individuals. This is because there are still laws against discrimination. For example, a private business cannot discriminate based on your sex, religion, or a number of other situations. Refusing a customer does put a store at risk for a lawsuit. There need to be no signs of discrimination. Otherwise, the liquor store could be the victim of a costly lawsuit.

If Massachusetts law had a section about denying alcohol to drunk customers, then store owners might do so more frequently. However, there is nothing that requires this practice. For the most part, liquor stores allow the sale of alcohol to drunk individuals. They might deny sales to pregnant women or people in other circumstances. But, in theory, they could deny the sale of liquor to drunk people.

Similar Precedents

Although most liquor stores in the state do sell to drunk customers, that may soon change. The state is taking a proactive stance against illegal drinking. To do this, most stores require that you have an in-state identification to purchase liquor. If you have an out-of-state ID, then the store can refuse you service. You need to show a passport or state ID; otherwise, you get sent home. Although this might sound like discrimination, it’s not. This requirement prevents people from using fake out-of-state IDs to purchase liquor.

With so many college campuses in the state, Massachusetts has a major issue with college students using fake IDs.Spotting fake out-of-state IDs is very difficult. By only allowing liquor purchases from state residents, the stores and clubs can prevent underage drinking.

Like refusing service to a drunk individual, refusing service to an out-of-state individual is a way to cope with illegal drinking. If more liquor stores refuse to serve drunk people, then drinking and driving could decline.It’s likely that the practice of denying out-of-state licenses made an impact on underage drinking.

Another precedent involves selling to people who are in the company of a minor. If you have a minor in your vehicle, a liquor store employee could refuse you service. If he does not, and you give the alcohol to the minor on his property, then he faces penalties. Additionally, you and the underage individual could face penalties. By having state legislation against the sale of liquor to minors, the state forces liquor stores to be more vigilant. Most stores are very cautious about selling to people who are in the company of minors. Rather than pay high fines for breaking the law, they would rather miss out on a sale.

Why Would it Help?

When most people go to a liquor store, they drive there. While there are a few exceptions, most people don’t walk to buy alcohol. Either they drive, or they have a friend drive over. By refusing service to a drunk individual, the cashier at the store could prevent a drunk driving accident.

Often, drunk driving occurs long after someone becomes drunk. It takes a certain level of inebriation for people to think that drunk driving is a good idea. If a cashier serves you when you are drunk, then he might contribute to your drunk driving. The alcohol that he sells you could be what pushes you to the point of drunk driving.

There’s also the issue of excessive drinking. In college towns, this is a major problem. Students sometimes drink to a dangerous extent. If you read the news, you can find plenty of stories about alcohol poisoning in college students. Refusing service to a drunk person could prevent alcohol poisoning before it happens. And it could prevent drunk driving. It’s a simple solution to many of Massachusetts’ drinking issues.