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Seller & server minimum age

Health Factors: Alcohol & Drug Use
Decision Makers: Local Government State Government
Evidence Rating: Insufficient Evidence
Population Reach: 10-19% of WI's population
Impact on Disparities: No impact on disparities likely

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Age of seller policies require that servers and clerks at alcohol establishments be of a minimum age in order to serve or sell alcohol.

Expected Beneficial Outcomes

Reduced underage drinking

Evidence of Effectiveness

There is insufficient evidence to determine whether age of seller policies reduce underage drinking. Available evidence suggests that underage sellers are more likely to sell alcohol to customers under the age of 21 (Forster 1994, Forster 1995) and to intoxicated patrons (Freisthler 2003). However, additional evidence is needed to confirm effects.


United States

The minimum required seller and server age varies among states. Some states, for example, require a minimum age of 21 while others require a minimum age of 18 (APIS).


As of January 2011, Wisconsin requires sellers and servers to be 18 or older (APIS).

Citations - Evidence

Forster 1994 - Forster JL, McGovern PG, Wagenaar AC, et al. The ability of young people to purchase alcohol without age identification in northeastern Minnesota, USA. Addiction. 1994;89(6):699-705. Accessed on February 4, 2016
Forster 1995* - Forster JL, Murray DM, Wolfson M, Wagenaar AC. Commercial availability of alcohol to young people: Results of alcohol purchase attempts. Preventive Medicine. 1995;24(4):342-7. Accessed on February 5, 2016
Freisthler 2003* - Freisthler B, Gruenewald PJ, Treno AJ, Lee J. Evaluating alcohol access and the alcohol environment in neighborhood areas. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. 2003;27(3):477-84. Accessed on February 5, 2016

Citations - Implementation

APIS - Alcohol Policy Information System (APIS). Welcome to the Alcohol Policy Information System. Accessed on December 1, 2015

Page Last Updated

October 17, 2013

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