Follow up to this M.Y. question...

In most states, people under 18 aren't allowed to buy alcohol, because the law wants to discourage young kids from consuming it. The buying, per se, is not the problem.

Is there a halachic problem if you get an adult to buy the product for you? What halachot might you have violated and what halachot has the buyer violated by doing this act?

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    Can you explain why this might be different than any standard case of Dina D'Malchusa (following the law of the land, of which I'm certain there are several questions already on this site)? – Salmononius2 Nov 23 at 19:27
  • You're saying "the buying is not a problem" but Cyn says it is a crime to buy for underaged. Please clarify on that - which way you ask. – Al Berko Nov 24 at 19:30
  • Most definitely a crime to buy for people under 21. This is true everywhere in the US, but each state has slightly different exceptions and interpretations. I live in a state with no legal exceptions but the only time I've ever heard of any adult getting in trouble for providing alcohol to the underaged in a private home setting is when it was a big teen party and someone got hurt. But buying in a store? Yeah, the police target that for sure. nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/… – Cyn Nov 25 at 2:34

In the United States, the legal drinking age is 21, not 18. This was standardized in 1984. Before that, some states had lower minimum ages. In most (but not all states) the law is about purchasing alcohol, not consuming it. And there are always religious exceptions.

It is indeed illegal in civil law to ask an adult to buy alcohol for you if you are not allowed. But that's not absolute. If you go up to an adult in a parking lot and ask them to go inside the store and buy for you, you can both be arrested. But if you're planning an event where alcohol will be served, you can ask someone overage to take over the task of buying it (but you usually can't be with them when they buy it, unless it's your parent and they don't say it's for you).

In addition to breaking civil law, I'd say there would be religious prohibitions on getting someone else in trouble with authorities. Police routinely assign officers who are over 18 and under 21 to pose as ordinary citizens and ask random strangers to buy alcohol for them, then arrest them if they do it. Ditto for store staff who forget (or "forget") to ask for ID or who pretend not to recognize an obviously fake ID. So there is a strong risk of harming the person who tries to help you if you ask them to do this illegal act.

(Going back and forth about making this an answer vs a comment as I am not quoting halachot or religious opinions.)

  • Dina d’Malchusa Dina. According to everyone but the Rosh this would be Halacha for US citizens. Do you need to cite sources from US law in this case? :) – DonielF Nov 24 at 22:34
  • @DonielF It's a somewhat vague area. You probably are correct, as an abettor to a crime is also guilty. However, legally, someone over 21 may buy the alcohol and claim that it was for him. – DanF Nov 26 at 19:43
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    @DanF Whether the cops are able to charge someone with a crime is very different from if the crime was committed or not. Someone isn’t allowed to murder someone even if he does it in a way that there’s no chance whatsoever that the cops would be able to tell who did it. – DonielF Nov 27 at 13:27
  • @DonielF I got that idea. However, legally, one is who is over 21 can buy the alcohol. He can't be arrested for that. The vague area (halachically, that is) is at what point has he violated a halacha - at the time of purchase because he had the intent to buy it to give to a minor, or at the time of the actual action of when he gives it to the minor? – DanF Nov 27 at 17:57
  • @DanF Or maybe, once he gives it to the minor, he's liable retroactively from the time he bought it? I'm not sure. – DonielF Nov 28 at 20:33

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