[Izak Post] Liquor Laws, being bullied at Sam's Club, and blue collar brawls: Michigan's criminal laws on store clerk ID checks.
Izak Post wrote the following article in response to an altercation he and his wife experienced at Sam's Club over the weekend involving their attempt to purchase alcohol. He discusses the laws related to what clerks must check prior to the purchase of alcohol at Sam's Club. (For NC readers who are no doubt confused...none of this applies to NC law. All liquor purchases must be through the ABC).
Spoiler alert: Izak and Liz are never wrong. Ever.
--- Here's Izak ----
This last weekend my wife and I were in Sam’s Club buying groceries and an embarrassingly fruity, sparkly, alcoholic beverage. I usually drive, so my wife usually leaves her driver’s license at home. When we went to purchase the wine, the check-out clerk asked for my ID. I happily gave it to her. Then she asked to see my wife’s ID. My wife said she left it at home. I told the clerk that I was the one buying the wine, so why does she need to see my wife’s ID. The clerk responded that it was Sam’s Club Policy to check all ID’s of the check-out group. Not only that, but the clerk said that it was against the law to not check the ID’s of everyone in the check-out party. Hearing that was like nails on a chalk board. I bit my tongue in an attempt to avoid saying the most annoying thing a lawyer can say to someone. But before I knew it, my wife, who is also an attorney, said, “well, we are both attorneys, and we know for a fact that it is not against the law.”
I can’t be mad at my wife because that is exactly what I was thinking. Even though I can’t blame my wife, the 5 foot 4 inch man behind us in the check-out line wearing an NRA cut off sleeve shirt and a long dirty pony tail became annoyed. He said that we better stop arguing laws and start checking out. I tried to explain that the computer was still processing, and our conversation about the law was not effecting his wait time. This enraged Hell’s Angel’s hobbit told me that I better shut up before he kicks my [butt]. Now, I have seen the Lord of The Rings, so I know when to back down from a fight. However, this experience got me thinking. Is it really a law that a store must check every ID in the check-out party? What about a parent with her minor children? Can the clerk not sell alcohol to parents with children present?
So the short answer is No, a store does not have to check every ID. Wal-Mart has made it their policy to check every ID, especially in college towns. There are a whole slew of news articles about patrons being denied the privilege to purchase alcohol because they had their kids with them, etc.
However, the law says a clerk does not even have to check an ID, let alone all ID’s. Michigan.gov has a retail guide for retailers of alcohol. They say to “Always check the identification (ID) of a person who appears less than 21 years old. https://www.michigan.gov/documents/dleg/FINAL-_Retail_Guide_2009_WEB_304923_7.pdf.
Of course, there is a law against selling alcohol to minors, MCL 436.1701. http://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(l5bgi4ongafwnabdaggcj1yc))/mileg.aspx?page=getobject&objectname=mcl-436-1701.
But this law says nothing about having to card anyone, let alone everyone that is checking out.
Now, Wal-Mart has the discretion to implement any policy it would like regarding selling alcohol, no matter how infuriating it is, but it is certainly not a law that a Wal-Mart cashier must check every ID in the check-out party.
For some more stories about stores refusing to sell liquor to people, check out these links: