Many minors want to participate in drinking before they are legally permitted. And although there are many reasons why they might want to participate in drinking before they are old enough, as an alcohol server, you have a responsibility to not sell alcohol to minors. One way minors will try to get alcohol is to use a fake ID. This may be someone else’s ID or a manufactured ID. It is your job to make sure that IDs are valid before you serve or give alcohol to anyone.
Every state has slightly different ID cards, but here are some tips on how to tell if an ID is valid or not.
Check the ID for any uneven areas. They may have laminated a new picture on top of the old ID. If you bend the edge of the ID slightly, the layers shouldn’t give or buckle. If they do, it’s probably a fake. Most IDs will also have holograms or foils. If you shine a flashlight on the ID, they should flash in and out of vision, but should not be consistently bright. Also, fake holograms don’t look as crisp or clean as real ones. Your state will have specific designs, so it is worth familiarizing yourself with them.
Check the expiration date. Though this seems simple, this is very common. Minors will sometimes try to use an adult’s ID that has simply expired. If it is expired, the ID is not valid.
Make sure the birthdate indicates that the person is 21 years or older. Some IDs will also have a “Minor Until” date. Look over this date as well, to double check that the person is old enough to be purchasing alcohol.
Simple, again, but important. If the ID is not readable, chances are that it is fake. Make sure you can read and understand everything on the ID. Also, look at the signature. If it looks like they typed it out in a fancy font, it is probably fake.
Compare the photo with the person. Just because someone doesn’t look exactly like their picture doesn’t mean it is fake, but it is good to double check. Check features of the face that don’t change such as bone structure, eyebrows, and eye color. Also check the height and weight listed. If it is drastically different, then you might want to ask some more questions.
If any of these things don’t check out, or you have a feeling that the person is not old enough, don’t be afraid to ask questions. One great question is to ask for them to show a second form of ID. People who have false IDs rarely carry a back-up ID. You can also do a pop-quiz about the information on the ID. Ask them what their zip code is or how to spell their middle name. Ask them to confirm their birthday or how old they are. If the ID is from out of state, ask them the capitol of their state.
If you ask them questions about specific information listed on their ID and they can’t answer, their ID is most likely fake. You can also ask them to sign their name and you can compare it to the signature on the ID. Even if they answer your questions correctly, keep an eye out for how they react. If they look anxious or are avoiding eye contact, it is worth asking them more questions.
If you know, or strongly suspect, that the person trying to purchase alcohol is not old enough, you have the right to refuse service. It also doesn’t hurt to double check with your manager first. Your manager can look over the ID as well and give a second opinion. Politely refusing service can protect your establishment’s reputation, as well as prevent potential liability. There are no penalties for refusing service for someone you suspect to be a minor. It is better to be cautious when it comes to serving alcohol.
Food Safety Reminder
When carding customers, check the validity of their identification. If you are unsure, ask them to verify information from the ID.