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photo id for alcohol and tobacco purchases

i have a question and i hope somebody can help me, my manager and i do not know what is legal or what to do, we have a call into the state but getting through to the attorney general or the governors office is not happening very fast.... i work at a convenience store, right down the road from an amish settlement here in my town and at night when i work the young men come in the store to purchase beer, cigarettes and the like, mostly french fries with mayo if you are interested, new york state and the store i work for has a law that no purchases of tobacco or alcohol can be made by anyone that looks under the age of thirty without a photo id, i have had to refuse sales, i get accused of all kinds of things by the boys, i have nothing against any of them, i admire their convictions and life style if the truth be known, but, as i said my manager and i do not know what to do, we could lose our jobs if someone, the wrong someone saw any of us sell them these items without a proper id, which they obviously do not have due to religious convictions, any advice, any info on where we could find out for sure, personal experience, anything would help, we are making some people very angry, HELP, thanks and i love your column, the cookbooks and all, i have been a fan since the first book by elizabeth came out years ago, cheryl ames

Re: photo id for alcohol and tobacco purchases

I will get flamed for this but here goes.  

No ID no beer or tobacco it's not worth your job or losing the license of the business owner. If they have non Amish friends with ids that are of age then let them come and get it.

You do not want the state or even the feds to come in on that. If a big enough problem is deemed in that area you will have something way past local cops coming in. No area wants visits from the ATF because licensing agreements are getting broken. 

While I respect everyone's belief's regarding alcohol and tobacco consumption and if that isn't for one personally then do not imbibe. However people of legal age (regardless of their religious background) do have every right to try it as long as they don't drink and drive or give it to under age people.

If the young guys are getting that angry and become combatative then let them know they have a choice they can politely leave or you can call the police and get them trespassed.

Just because they are Amish doesn't mean they are perfect nor should they have to try to be and I don't really care what they are wearing,  plain clothes or blue jeans and a Corona t-shirt.  Their relationship between what they do and God is personal just like every other individual.  I think it shows honesty to walk in a store with plain clothes and pick up a 6 pack and a pack of cigarettes. They are not put on this planet to be an example for other people's romantic notions of the perfect religion.



Re: photo id for alcohol and tobacco purchases

No flames here, totally agreed with what you said Laughing

KJuneBug's picture
Re: photo id for alcohol and tobacco purchases

Well, we just spent the week at Bible Camp with our denomination.  The opinion of alcohol consumption is mixed.  I believe most are against it, (we serve grape juice at communion), but there are a few in our congregation that do consume wine.  Our speaker was of German descent and he is in the process of changing to our denomination, most in our denomination are Norwegian, so his view was different than most of us in the audience.  He did partake in beer and wine consumption, which made a few of us squirm in our seats a bit.

The question about wine being so prevelant in Jesus time is legitimate.  The answer is that wine is the perserved form of grape juice, food preservation was different back then, I highly doubt that fresh grape juice was readily available at all times.  And in the example of the first miracle, Jesus was attending a Jewish wedding, a celebration. And, alcohol was used medicinally back then.  

Basically this is a grey area in most denominations.  For us personally we don't drink any kinds or forms of alcohol, or smoke as we find that those things would be offensive to Jesus and serve as stumbling blocks in our walk.

In response to the concern of the orginal question.  No, you should not feel obligated to sell those items to folks who do not posses the proper identification.  You are not Amish, I am guessing that you are a law abiding American and what if, an agent of the state of NY was undercover, dressing as an Amish person just to catch someone like yourself in the act of breaking a law.  If I were in your postion I would politely decline the sale, and if the person continued to persue the sale I would call the local authorities.    

Re: photo id for alcohol and tobacco purchases

thanks for all the comments and suggestions, i did not mean to imply these amish men were drunks by no means, to me it looks like they would just like to have an ice cold drink after a hard day of working in the sun, they are only human too, its shameful that people for the most part expect them to be perfect because of their religious choice, i do know some of them personally and could tell you a lot more but i am sure some of you would be shocked and have a negative comment or we will leave it as is, they have a hard enough time as it is.  but again, thank you all for the insightful suggestions......also, even i the ones i do  know personally i have to card, if my sister came in the store i would have to legally card her, we have security cameras on the cash register at all times and if i was ever viewed selling alcohol to someone that looked under the age of thirty without carding them, no matter who they are i would be in trouble........such is life, cheryl

Re: photo id for alcohol and tobacco purchases

Cheryl, here is something that may help (instead of the governor’s office), “If you are uncertain as to the legality of a contemplated course of action, we strongly recommend you contact your legal representative or the State Liquor authority before proceeding.  On routine queries, we may be able to provide an answer via telephone or e-mail (  On more complex issues, we may request you submit your questions(s) in writing.”  From the “State Liquor Authority Handbook for Retail Licensees”.  To see the booklet use the abc link above.  Then click Retailers on the left column and Responsible Alcohol Sales from the menu that opens.

I wondered if there is a “personally known” exception.  For example, would a clerk card her neighbor if the clerk knows the neighbor graduated with her younger brother in 2003?  In the same way that Kevin knows those he purchased for, if you found a way to get to know a few of the Amish men, might that be a solution?  It would, of course, require some effort, however if the sales are important to the viability of the store, it might be a reasonable response.    --Kay

Re: photo id for alcohol and tobacco purchases

I think that if these young people are indeed Amish, then they should be ashamed of themselves for buying beer and cigarettes and generally being an awful Christian witness to the world. I am shocked that Amish women would be looking to buy beer; it is certainly verboten for them to sit around slurping beer if they are church members, and if they are over 21 then they have had to make that  decision already one would think. One of the things that plain people should be mindful of is that the outside world looks at them as representatives of a particular Christian lifestyle. They are highly noticeable because of their clothing, and therefore, it is imperative that they are not seen doing things in public that would cast a shadow on the Christian walk. After all, their ancestors were martyrs for Christ, and that is something not forgotten in their culture today.  This is absolutely shameful. Susan

Re: photo id for alcohol and tobacco purchases

I've never, ever run across an Amish church that expressly forbids alcohol consumption. What the church DOES not advocate is excessive drinking.  But the Amish have a rich German heritage and alcohol is part of that.  Even the Amish ladies I was referring to in my earlier post were not buying beer and getting inebriated.  They were simply having a beer with their supper.  So I think a clear distinction needs to be drawn between excessive alcohol consumption and simply embracing alcohol as part of one's cultural heritage.   I'm defending alcohol consumption, I rarely drink myself...but I'm not sure having a beer makes one a bad Christian representative...

LuvMaerz's picture
Re: photo id for alcohol and tobacco purchases

"Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift... that's why they call it the present."

 Thanks for the clarification!  Makes much more sense.  I personally do not really care to drink, not that I find anything particularly wrong with it if it is done responsibly and in moderation.  One thing that I have thought of recently is....(and I hope this doesn't cause another nasty theological debate, because that is not my intent)...back in Jesus' day, drinking wine was quite common and accepted (although drinking to exceses was frowned upon even then).  Even his first miracle was turning water into wine!  At the Last Supper, he used wine as a symbol of his blood.  So I wonder, when did alcohol become taboo for some Christian religions?  Maybe I need to Google that one.

Re: photo id for alcohol and tobacco purchases

Geez, I was thinking the exact same thing, but also didn't want to start a theological tiff with anyone....but, yes, some religions DO make ALL alcohol taboo...whether it's Mormon, Southern Baptist, or Muslim, while others either take no position or even semi-embrace I'm not sure where along the line alcohol crossed the line to becoming totally taboo in some religions....I'm like you, I'm not making any value judgments one way or the other, merely exploring a line of ideological thought....

By the way, putting beer aside, many Amish housewives do make homemade wine...dandelion wine is a favorite...again,  I'm talking moderation, miniscule amounts, perhaps a few sips after supper.

LuvMaerz's picture
Re: photo id for alcohol and tobacco purchases

"Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift... that's why they call it the present."

 This is a VERY good question!  Cheryl, I don't envy your position at all.  Definitely a prime example of a "slippery slope" issue.  I am very curioius as to what Mr. Ballan has to say. 

HOWEVER... I know there are exceptions to everything, but I thought Amish were not permitted to drink alcohol for the most part.  So if it were addressed with the Bishop, would it even be an issue?  Just curious...

Re: photo id for alcohol and tobacco purchases

kevin, thanks for the insight, i happen to know steve ballan, he actually is a customer at the store i was referring to, and i am following the news on the amish and building permits, there is more trouble in that area as of today.........cheryl

Re: photo id for alcohol and tobacco purchases

This is an interesting question.....

I've actually (SIGH, I know, I have a bizarre life) been to a liquor store in the past with some young Amish ladies who wanted to purchase alcohol.....This was in a heavily populated Amish area....The young Amish lady did not have a photo ID, but she was able to buy the case of beer anyway....I think the clerk made a "cultural determination" that the Amish bought beer and lived by a 'different set of rules' and therefore didn't bother checking ID   That, I realize, is a very risky strategy for a retailer and I'm not recommending it, just relaying my experience.  On another occasion, I simply purchased some beer for these over age-21 ladies using my photo ID.   That said, I am going to submit this question to Steve Ballan. He is the skillful attorney handling the Amish building code cases in Morristown, New York.  Since you are also in New York he might be able to give us some guidance in determining what you should do under Empire State Law. I don't think he can dispense formal legal advice, but he might give us some general guidelines. So check back here tomorrow!

paulaayn's picture
Re: photo id for alcohol and tobacco purchases


I would think if you had the rules posted and applied them equally to everyone, then there shouldn't be a problem.  I mean, the Amish are supposed to be God-fearing, law-abbiding folks.  It's not a law that encroches on their religious beliefs really, it's to protect children from bad things (smokes and beer).  If things are really getting out of hand, I would almost consider speaking to their bishop and get him to rein in the others                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

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