Michigan’s Strangest Alcohol Laws Involve Underage Citizens
It's reiterated in this article, but this author, website and company in no way condone underage drinking except when permitted by the law, which is detailed in this article for entertainment and information purposes. Follow the law and drink responsibly.
I have to preface this article by acknowledging that I am not a born and bred Michigander. I'm from a state that has much stricter alcohol laws than the Mitten State: Alabama. There's been a steep learning curve for me over the past year when it comes to alcohol in this state.
That said, it actually surprised me to learn that it was only recently that Michigan residents could buy alcohol before noon, as prior to 2010 Michigan had a "Blue Law" that prevented the sale from 7 a.m. until noon on Sundays. Alabama only recently allowed for the sale of alcohol after noon at all in 2012. Even still, retailers in Michigan need a specific, more expensive, liquor license to sell from 7 a.m. until noon.
Ironically, though the states' individual stances are starkly different, both Alabama and Michigan are included in the 17 states across the country known as "control states," which means alcohol is purchased by the government first and then sold through state-owned stores.
But, now that I'm in Michigan and getting used to things such as "party stores", I felt it was necessary to brush up on some of the laws of the land concerning alcoholic beverages. The rabbit hole I found is that Michigan's strangest laws involve underage citizens.
Of course, underage drinking is a serious matter and this article is not intended to condone it whatsoever. Furthermore, none of these present the opportunity to drink more than a sip anyway.
First up are the three workarounds for underage drinkers to consume alcohol.
These examples are sourced from ProCon.org.
The first is understandable and not really considered strange: religious tradition. Sacramental wine at a church, synagogue or temple is fair game for underage Michiganders so long as it's within the framework of the tradition. So, no, you can't get in line for seconds for communion.
The second is considerably more rare, but it could pop up for many of our state's college students. If an enrolled student is in a class, specifically within an academic building under faculty supervision, consumption is perfectly legal within the context of the course and its educational requirements.
That rustling sound was a bunch of students rushing to Google to see what majors and classes provide such a curriculum.
The last one really baffles me. How many people under the age of 21 are undercover? Well, if they are, they can consume alcohol if:
the minor purchases or receives alcoholic liquor under the direction of the person's employer and with the prior approval of the local prosecutor's office as part of an employer-sponsored internal enforcement action. (b) An undercover operation in which the minor purchases or receives alcoholic liquor under the direction of the state police, the commission, or a local police agency as part of an enforcement action unless the initial or contemporaneous purchase or receipt of alcoholic liquor by the minor was not under the direction of the state police, the commission, or the local police agency and was not part of the undercover operation."
Do you want Sterling Archers out here? Because that's how you get Sterling Archers.
This next one also pertains to underage relations to alcohol, but it's concerning the serving of alcohol rather than its consumption.
Just last year Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed a House Bill that allows 17-year-old waitstaff in restaurants to serve alcohol. The teens are subject to a state-mandated training program and must be supervised by a manager 18 years or older in order to do so.
There's a bit of irony in the event that an 18-year-old (who also cannot buy alcohol) is managing or supervising someone just one year younger than themselves to sell alcohol, but I digress.
According to ProCon, only five states have no exceptions for underage drinking: Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, New Hampshire and West Virginia. So Michigan isn't alone in having exceptions, but for someone from one of those states with no exceptions, it is a bit surprising to see what some of the exceptions entail.