Transporting Alcohol as a Minor
July 2, 2007 10:08 PM   Subscribe

Is it legal to transport unopened bottles of wine as a minor?

I'm bringing them as a gift to my fiancée's family in Australia -- I won't be buying them, and it'll be legal for me to have them there. Is it illegal for me to transport them until I leave the U.S.? I've a layover in Honolulu and am coming from Washington state, if state law is relevant.

Is this legal?
posted by tehgeekmeister to Law & Government (18 answers total)
Washington state minor in possession laws: Persons under the age of 21 may not acquire, possess, or consume alcohol.
posted by The Deej at 10:18 PM on July 2, 2007

Hawaii law.
b) No minor shall consume or purchase liquor and no minor shall consume or have liquor in the minor's possession or custody in any public place, public gathering, or public amusement, at any public beach or public park, or in any motor vehicle on a public highway; provided that notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, this subsection shall not apply to:

(1) Possession or custody of liquor by a minor in the course of delivery, pursuant to the direction of the minor's employer lawfully engaged in business necessitating the delivery;

posted by The Deej at 10:21 PM on July 2, 2007

Every state bans underage possession of alcohol.

Practically, however, you have a lot more to worry about packing them so they don't break on the plane than about legal trouble.

I'm not a lawyer, but I have transported alcohol as a minor, albeit not on airplanes - but still, from my experience at airports, you shouldn't even expect a opportunity for them to connect your underage ID and the wine in your bags.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 10:26 PM on July 2, 2007

How much wine are you taking? Perhaps you can put the wine in one of these inside your carry-on and never specify what's in there...I've never been asked to justify or explain the contents of my bag, ever. You could also just wrap them in bubble wrap and stick them in a knapsack surrounded by clothes.
posted by mdonley at 10:44 PM on July 2, 2007

You're not allowed to bring liquid in the carry-on, and while I understand you still have a decent chance of sneaking it through, I'd say you're almost infinitely more likely to be forced to throw out the wine as "liquid on the carry-on" than as "underage possession of alcohol in the checked baggage."
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 10:49 PM on July 2, 2007

Have a parent or another over-21 adult carry the bag with you until you've checked it. So it's in the over-21 person's possession until it's in the airline's possession. Then it won't be in your possession until you're in Australia, at which point (assuming you're over 18), you're fine.

(I'm not a lawyer, though.)
posted by croutonsupafreak at 11:05 PM on July 2, 2007 [1 favorite]

Oh! And be sure to declare the wine on your customs forms when you arrive in Australia. You can get into big trouble if you don't.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 11:07 PM on July 2, 2007

Wine is tough to transport, it's perishable and breakable and regulated. If you have another gift option I'd recommend skipping it. If you absolutely have to bring wine, don't bring it in your carry-on (it'll probably be confiscated like TheOnlyCoolTim says). Pack it in lots of bubble wrap and then in a large Ziploc freezer bag and bury it as best you can in your clothes. Even packed like that you run the risk of it breaking and seeping all over everything, but at least with a bunch of plastic around it you have a fighting chance. I wouldn't worry much about the underage bit, especially with the checked baggage.

Once safely delivered, it should be set aside for a while (that means weeks) since wine reacts badly to both jostling and the kind of big temperature changes it's likely to get on the trip. That assumes it's good wine, because otherwise why would you go through all that bother?
posted by cali at 11:16 PM on July 2, 2007

Oh God, I totally forgot about the liquid ban. Sorry!
posted by mdonley at 11:19 PM on July 2, 2007

Anecdotal, but at 16 I bought a bottle of wine in France and brought it home in my checked luggage to Oklahoma to give as a gift. That was, however, a decade ago, well before 9/11 and liquid terror.
posted by Brittanie at 11:28 PM on July 2, 2007

Have you thought of buying them when you get here? I've heard that you can buy nice wine in Australia.
posted by b33j at 11:32 PM on July 2, 2007

Echoing b33j, you can buy duty-free wine (aged 18+) at international airports here before clearing customs.

Most of that will be Australian wine but some higher priced international options are available (e.g. french champagne).
posted by cwhitfcd at 12:22 AM on July 3, 2007

I'd buy a styrofoam wine shipper and have it shipped.
posted by BrotherCaine at 2:17 AM on July 3, 2007

When I was 13 and on a trip to Europe, I got a bottle of wine from my host family. I kept insisting I couldn't take it, since obviously we weren't allowed alcohol, but they insisted and told me it was a gift for my parents instead.

Anyways, I was able to bring it through customs, but I think it may have been because our group leaders told the customs officials it was a gift (I wasn't the only person). This was also way before 9/11 and the liquid ban and such.

If you REALLY want to risk it, put it in your checked in bag and wrap clothes around it and stuff. I've never been asked to explain the contents of my bag either (aside from basics like knives, guns, etc.) and those open security checks just tend to take a quick peek in my bag with a feel down. I relate this based on my experience of carrying some rum from Mexico that you can't exactly have in the US...
posted by champthom at 6:21 AM on July 3, 2007

Anecdotal, but at 16 I bought a bottle of wine in France and brought it home in my checked luggage to Oklahoma to give as a gift. That was, however, a decade ago, well before 9/11 and liquid terror

Me too. Ah, the good old days.

If it were me, I'd put it in checked luggage VERY well wrapped in bubble wrap. They aren't going to cross-verify the age of the passenger with that person's checked luggage.
posted by desuetude at 6:23 AM on July 3, 2007

Err, also to add, I doubt it's legal, but the chances you're caught are reasonably low.
posted by champthom at 6:23 AM on July 3, 2007

derail: i've traveled with many a wine bottle, and the best way i've found to do it is to use one of these. Last October i brought 7 bottles of wine home this way and it worked like a charm. Put it in your checked bag, and hope for the best. Although I've traveled internationally many a time, the only time my bag has been thoroughly searched was right after 9/11.
posted by escher at 7:39 AM on July 3, 2007

I just flew into Australia with a bottle of wine 2 days ago. While I am 22 and wouldn't have a problem if they had checked me, at no point during my flights (checked in once in Sonoma County Airport and again in LAX) did anything even remotely teetering on the legality of carrying wine occur. When you check in a bag, no one asks you if you have alcohol in it. Once it's in TSA security check, they wouldn't notice or care about it. They have much bigger things to worry about. So I say go for it.
As far as breakage, I had it in a WineSkin and that was wrapped in a sweater and it wasn't broken.
Also re:customs, I didn't declare it but I declared other stuff and they looked at it and didn't care. I would declare it anyway if I were you.
(I didn't declare it because I had already bought 2 1L bottles of gin in duty free and didn't want them to know I was over my 2.25L alcohol limit)

posted by shokod at 4:40 AM on July 7, 2007

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