Massachusetts steps up DTC age compliance enforcement

If you ship wine directly to consumers (DTC) in Massachusetts, now would be a good time to confirm you’ve taken all the necessary steps to prevent the sale or delivery of alcohol to minors. The Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission (ABCC) is conducting Minimum Purchase Age Compliance Checks on direct wine shipper licensees through September 30, 2022.

Carol Martel, Wine Institute’s Northeastern Counsel, warns that wineries should be extremely vigilant about age verification as noncompliance could place the entire Massachusetts DTC program in peril.

Per the ABCC, a direct wine shipper licensee that violates MGL Chapter 138 § 19F by selling or delivering wine to a person under 21 years of age could be subject to the following penalties:

  • Suspension of the direct shipper license for 180 days, or a $1,000 fine, or both (first violation)
  • Suspension of the direct shipper license for one year, or a $2,000 fine, or both (second violation)
  • Suspension of the direct shipper license for two years, or a $5,000 fine, or both (third or subsequent violation)

Although Massachusetts law clearly spells out the penalties for selling or shipping wine to anyone under the age of 21, it doesn’t specify how direct shipper licensees should verify the age of the buyer or recipient. Some states do.

For example, South Dakota law (S.D. Codified Law Ann. § 35-12B-5) requires direct shipper licensees to verify the age of the person placing the order before shipping the wine. Age verification can occur one of two ways:

  • Obtain a copy of the person’s valid age-bearing photo identification document issued by South Dakota, another state, or the federal government
  • Use a qualified third-party age verification service

When applying for a direct wine shipper license, applicants must specify how they intend to verify the age of buyers and recipients.

Additionally, South Dakota requires direct wine shipper licensees to record the name, address, date of birth, and telephone number of the person placing the order, and to notify the person placing the order that the recipient of the shipment will have to show a valid age-bearing photo identification upon delivery.

Avalara Age Verification for Beverage Alcohol can help you comply with age verification requirements in different states. Visit Avalara for Beverage Alcohol to learn more.


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