When I was in school, I went on a weekend camp trip sponsored by university with mixed age group of students…there were students ranging from freshmen (18 years) through graduate students (21 or older). I had a great time socializing and we all ended up exchanging contact info of one another. It just happened that after a month or so, I get a call from one of them, who was under 21, asking if I can buy some alcohol for them and come to their house party. I knew it was illegal to buy alcohol to minors and politely said an excuse and got out of the situation…As a student or professional you may come across similar situation, let me try to explain some of the consequences and how you can be cautious.
Consequences of serving alcohol to Under 21 year olds
As an international student/ professional in US, just out of your ignorance or shy, you may not question the age of your friends/ new acquaintances… in some situations they may ask you to pick up (buy) some alcohol or cigarettes for them if you are going to their place just to hang out or for a party. In case, the friends who you bought alcohol for were under 21, you are in deep trouble.
Unless the person(under 21) you buy alcohol to is your child or spouse, you may have to pay $2000 fine or 6 months imprisonment or both. Check Alcohol Serving rules . The violation can vary by state…it is illegal. Also, similar is the case with buying cigarettes for under 18 or 19 year olds depending on state. Check the Texas laws for tobacco. Bottom line, NEVER ever try to buy or sell anything like alcohol or cigarettes to someone whom you do not know.
Socializing situations in School or out of school that you need to be cautious.
When you are in school, you might get an invitation for a house party. You may meet someone in the library (I met many new people in library) and become friends with them and they might invite you for a party…You may someone through your current friends and get invited for their house party…you may meet someone in a social club or organization in school… If you are out of school, you may meet someone in a bar…someone while playing sports, some other social activity or out-door activity…etc. Most of the times, the party may involve booze, so be careful.
Tips to handle these situations / verify age ?
Typically as internationals we may not be able to judge the right age of other people, especially if they are from different race…It can be very awkward to directly ask the age at the first time…. here are some tips you can use to ask the age gracefully.
- Ask their year in school. If they say are undergrad and say freshmen they will be around 18. You do the math based on what they say. If they are grad students they may be 21…but double check
- Another way is to ask them which year did they graduate from high school. They will be around 18 when they graduated.
- Check their facebook or other social networking profile or check their friends info who went to same high school…
- You can take your international ID and ask them to see how their ID looks and look at the date of birth on it.
- You can ask their friends or get the age of friends in same class.
- You can directly ask the age too, it can be awkward…but worth asking.
- If you do not know the age, just gracefully say some reason and get out of situation.
There may be many tips, above are some that I can think of…in any case, better be safe than sorry…Never ever try to buy alcohol for under 21 aged students. In case of doubt, just say NO for such offers.
Can you think of any tips to get out of situation? Any personal experiences to share ?
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