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Underage Buyer Program

The Underage Buyer (UB) program is an ongoing effort by Virginia ABC to visit alcohol and tobacco retailers throughout the Commonwealth to verify compliance with the state age requirements—18 for tobacco and 21 for alcohol sales.

Special agents, who are sworn officers from Virginia ABC’s Bureau of Law Enforcement, accompany underage operatives during attempts to purchase cigarettes or alcohol at grocery stores, convenience stores, restaurants and other businesses, including Virginia ABC stores.

The purpose of the UB program is not to trick businesses. In fact, it is the hope of Virginia ABC that 100 percent of the businesses comply with state law by not selling to the underage buyer.

  • Virginia ABC selects operatives who look their age, making it easier for clerks and servers to request ID and avoid the sale.
  • Operatives are instructed not to alter their appearance or mannerisms or mislead clerks in any way while attempting to make a purchase.
  • Operatives carry their own valid identification. If the store clerk asks for ID, the operative presents his or her own valid identification.

Virginia ABC special agents throughout the state complete nearly 400 alcohol and tobacco compliance checks every month. View inspection results

Underage Operatives Make a Difference

Virginia ABC continually recruits new underage buyers who:

  • Seek exciting work that makes a difference by keeping their peers safer.
  • Seek a part-time job that pays well with a flexible schedule.
  • Are thinking of pursuing a career in law enforcement.
  • Are looking for a unique experience for college applications and resumes.

All activities will be conducted in a safe manner, under the guidance and supervision of a Virginia ABC special agent. Regardless of whether a sale is made, the underage operative leaves the store immediately after the purchase attempt.

 

Eligibility

Candidates must be 16–17 years of age to qualify for the tobacco program and 18–20 years of age for the alcohol program. Operatives must be willing to testify in court if necessary, and they are asked to refrain from discussing their ABC activities with others to protect the integrity of the program.

 

To Apply

For more information or to apply, contact your Virginia ABC regional office.

Link to Virginia ABC Bureau of Law Enforcement
View inspection results for the Underage Buyer program.

Preventing Underage Sales

Virginia ABC has a strict "zero tolerance" policy for underage consumption and looks to restaurants, groceries, and other licensed establishments to aggressively avoid these sales. Read more about avoiding underage sales.
PLEASE NOTE: Access to Virginia ABC's website will be interrupted from 10 p.m. on Saturday, April 22, through 5 a.m. on Sunday, April 23, as the commonwealth performs internet maintenance.