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Gopuff Temporarily Loses Mass. Liquor License for Selling Alcohol to Underage BC Students

Massachusetts authorities revoked online delivery service Gopuff’s liquor license on May 18 for allegedly selling alcohol to underage Boston College students multiple times. One week later, a judge paused the state’s revocation of Gopuff’s license.

“We are committed to stopping underage drinking and its devastating consequences,” said State Treasurer Deborah B. Goldberg, who oversees the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission (ABCC). “To prevent these situations, we outreach and educate young people and their families, as well as proactively ensure compliance across the state.”

The ABCC’s investigation into Gopuff originally began in November 2021 after a complaint claimed the company was selling and delivering alcohol to minors. A report published May 19 detailed 19 counts of Gopuff selling and delivering alcoholic beverages to underage individuals over the span of three weeks in November and December of 2021.

Gopuff filed a lawsuit against the ABCC in the Suffolk County Superior Court on Tuesday, arguing that revoking its license was unfair and poorly timed. According to Gopuff, it first received notice of violations in December 2021, two and a half years prior to the decision to revoke its license.

“If there were an actual harm to the public interest that was threatened by Gopuff’s continued operation, the [Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission] would (and should) have acted far more expeditiously to protect that interest than it did,” Gopuff said in a memorandum. “The fact that the ABCC did not speaks volumes.”

Gopuff also argued the punishment it received was unprecedented and more harsh than other companies have received in the past for the same offense. 

“The sanction imposed for a first offense of sale of alcohol to minors—and frequently, for subsequent offenses as well—is a license suspension for a matter of days,” the memorandum reads. “… Gopuff is unaware of any instance in which the ABCC has ever outright revoked a retail license or a transportation permit on the basis of service to minors after a first offense.”

According to the ABCC’s report, the state investigators conducted surveillance outside Gopuff’s licensed premises on Needham Street in Newton, and on several occasions they followed company drivers as they sold and delivered alcohol to BC students. 

On one occasion, two investigators observed a group of four underage male students on Monadnock Road, who were carrying one pack of Bud Light beer, one pack of Miller Lite beer, two packs of Natural Light beer, and two bottles of Kavlana vodka. 

Upon approaching them, the report said one of the students—who was 18 at the time—said he placed the order for the alcohol through the Gopuff app using a fake Connecticut driver’s license.

In another instance, investigators approached an underage student after observing him receiving two packs of Budweiser beer, one pack of Truly hard seltzer, and one bottle of Pink Whitney vodka from a Gopuff driver on Priscilla Road. 

When the Gopuff driver asked his age, the student sprinted away toward the direction of BC residential halls, leaving behind a duffel bag containing the alcohol as well as a name tag with his name and New York address. 

Julia Weppler, MCAS ’25, said she never personally ordered alcohol on Gopuff, but her friends used the app to purchase alcoholic drinks throughout their freshman and sophomore years. 

Weppler said her friends would often meet the Gopuff delivery drivers over a mile from BC’s campus, so they would be less likely to encounter the police. She said the drivers would ask the person who ordered the drinks for an ID when they came to pick it up, but the driver would not always scan the ID.

“They don’t ask for anything when you order it, but then right before the driver gives it to you, they’ll ask for an ID,” Weppler said. “And then sometimes they scan it, sometimes they just look at it.”

A student who wished to remain anonymous said they used Gopuff to buy alcohol their freshman year.

“They just took a picture of my ID and made sure that it said I was 21, and then after that they just gave it back and drove away,” the student said.

The student said they walked over to the private residential roads behind Upper Campus to meet the Gopuff driver to avoid being seen by their RA. In addition, the student said they brought an extra bag for the alcohol, as it was not in a concealed bag when delivered.

“It was just a pass-off, but I brought a backpack to put the stuff in,” they said.

According to the student, many others also used Gopuff to acquire alcohol their freshman year because it was easy.

A hearing for a request for preliminary injunction—a court order prohibiting something in the short term while the court decides if it is prohibited permanently—is scheduled for June 2 to determine the future of Gopuff’s liquor license in Massachusetts. 

May 30, 2023