Recently, on a rather uneventful night bartending, a group
of guys sauntered into the bar and sat down. With one look
at them, I knew they were underage. I asked for ID and
immediately noticed one of the guys was already nervously
clutching his, tapping it on the bar. I smiled – not only because
this kid didn’t know any better that that was a clear indication
of guilt, but because I flashed back to a time when I wanted
to be able to drink at a bar and couldn’t because I was too
young. Ah, to be young again.
Anyway, so I checked his ID and noticed it said he was
from Connecticut, but his street just so happened to have
the same name of a well-known block in town (a mere few
blocks from the bar, in fact). I knew better than to ask the
routine questions, like ‘what’s your address’? and ‘what year
were you born?’ I knew the only way to stump him was to
ask for the zip code. When I did,
you could literally watch him call
defeat. He began to ramble off
an explanation but I waved my
hands and said, ”Now, show me
your REAL ID”. He reluctantly did
and sure enough, he was a 19
year local. I asked for everyone
else’s ID’s and smirked when
they all handed me a Connecticut
drivers license, followed by their
legitimate New Jersey ones
behind it. Guilty side-glances
“But I’ll be 21 in a few months”
isn’t going to save my ass in a lawsuit if God forbid something
happens to an underage person who consumes drinks that
I served them. Some people may roll their eyes at me for
being such a “Grandma” about it – or some may think I’m
being hypocritical because most likely, I consumed alcohol
before the age of 21. Yeah, I did, but I never bought into the
‘fake ID scams’ that were popular back then and I don’t buy
into them now. Especially when I have a legal responsibility
as a bartender to keep MYSELF safe, as well as others.
It’s summer. There’s going to be tons of kids who are
aching to be able to hang out with their older friends (who
may already be 21) – now is a better time than ever to refresh
on the signs to look for when it comes to spotting out a fake
· Acceptable forms of ID are: a driver’s license, state ID card,
military ID and passport.
· Forms of ID that are NOT acceptable: a birth certificate,
school ID, and voter registration cards.
· A valid ID will always have the owner’s birthday, signature,
and photograph. It should also be current (not expired) and in
tact (no ripped sides).
To decide whether or not an ID is legitimate:
· Check whether or not the images and text on the ID are
correctly placed (counterfeit IDs have improperly placed
icons to avoid criminal liability).
· Check the holograms when tilted to ensure they are valid.
· Look for the ghost photo – a tiny, faint copy of the person’s
· Check that the text (and license number) on the ID is in a
normal font size and has proper spacing.
· When comparing a photo to a face, consider the chin and
shape of the face first.
· If you’re not sure about an ID,
always ask for a second proof of
If you’re a bartender and you’re
scoffing at this, let me just
remind you of a few things.
You probably know about civil
liability (bartenders can be sued
and forced to pay damages to
an injured guest) and criminal
liability (facing criminal charges
for breaking alcohol laws, like
serving to a minor) but do you
know what dram shop laws are? If not, you should. Dram
shop laws allow a bar/restaurant’s owners and employees to
be sued by someone injured by a customer who had been
drinking at their establishment. So not only do you have to
worry about YOURSELF (as the bartender) and the customer,
but you also have to consider the people who may come in
contact with them. Bartending is a fun job – but these kinds
of things should be taken seriously.
I’m not trying to be a buzz kill, but it’s so important for
bartenders to understand the responsibility of providing
alcohol (in addition to a good time) to guests. I’m not saying
that those kids shouldn’t come back in a few months when
they are finally 21, but trying to be sneaky by passing off
a fake ID could impact my life just as much as theirs. Call
me bitchy, call me wise, just don’t call me your bartender –
because I won’t be until you’re of age.
BY Leanne Aciz