A primary step in avoiding the illegal sale of alcoholic beverages to minors is adequately training sales and service staff responsible for handling alcohol about the laws. There should be a clear understanding of what to look for when checking IDs for an appropriate date of birth.
Policies should also be in place on what to do when presented with an ID suspected of being a fake.
The legal drinking age in most of the United States is 21. Servers and sales staff are never required to provide alcohol to anyone. There is no such thing as a “legal right” to buy alcohol, but this personnel do have the legal right to deny those without a legitimate document proving age, one that the staff believes to be adequate and legal.
While age discrimination laws do not protect those under 21, anyone over the age of 21 cannot be discriminated against based on “sex, race, ancestry, color, religion, marital status, disability, sexual orientation, or national origin.” Let’s review what “bona fide” or legally accepted ID can be presented to prove age in the United States.
What Bona Fide ID Is Acceptable To Prove Age In The United States?
In the United States, most states legalize drinking alcohol at the age of 21. Servers and sales staff are prohibited from providing alcohol to anyone under this age without repercussions. In order to avoid serving a minor, these staff members are required to check a legitimate ID for the date of birth of the individual before providing service.
There are “bona fide” or legally acceptable forms of ID that can be used to prove an appropriate age for purchasing alcohol. The ID must consist of these characteristics:
- Current and valid – expired cards are not accepted
- A physical description must be included with hair and eye color, height, and weight
- Date of birth
- Issuing government agencies either “federal, state, county, or city.”
These are examples of IDs that would serve as legitimate forms accepted by most servers and sales staff for checking appropriate age.
- ID card/Driving license
- Out-of-state driving license or ID card
- A US military card that doesn’t have a physical description is acceptable
- US and foreign passports, including a photo without a physical description, are accepted
An individual can’t offer two unacceptable forms of ID in an attempt to create an acceptable one. Some IDs that are not bona fide or legally acceptable are
- Birth certificate
- Social security card
- US government immigrant ID
- Work or school ID
- ID issued by a non-government agency
- A temporary driving license or receipt from the DMV for the license
- Foreign ID card or driving license
- Check cashing card
Any document that is valid but has been in any way altered, forged, or counterfeit, stolen, borrowed, or expired is unacceptable. Some sales and service providers have more stringent guidelines where all guests must present their ID regardless of age when purchasing alcohol and other restrictive items like tobacco products.
Is It Illegal To Sell Or Supply Alcohol To Anyone Under The Age Of 21 In The United States?
Within the United States, each individual state has made it a criminal act to supply those under the age of 21 alcohol, regardless of whether there’s a payment received. It’s well known to everyone living in the country that the legal drinking age is 21. You cannot purchase, own, or drink alcoholic beverages until you are 21 years of age.
People cannot provide alcohol to those under this age. Anyone known to supply minors with alcohol in any state will be guilty of a crime though the details in the laws for individual states are unique for each. Regarding alcohol laws, individuals under 21 are considered “minors.”
Though the terms might differ in an all-encompassing definition, the laws “prohibit any form of giving, furnishing, or providing liquor to minors including when money does not change hands.” “Selling” is relatively understood, but “furnishing” or “supplying” can cover a vast territory.
In order to further specify, the laws stipulate that the person providing the minor with alcohol did so knowingly and with the intention that the underage individual acquires the substance. For instance, it’s not enough to have a party with alcohol and minors present since this doesn’t show that you intend for minors to be supplied with alcohol.
Is It A Crime To Sell Alcohol To Someone With A Fake ID?
Many times minors present false or altered IDs in an attempt to acquire alcohol, thereby lying about their age and trying to appear older than they are. Each state has a different approach for how to handle these situations.
Some state laws expect the server or seller to thoroughly inspect the ID following specific guidelines, plus issue the buyer a “declaration of age” form to fill out for documentation purposes.
This is a way to avoid conviction if these steps are taken when selling to a minor since it shows all necessary steps were taken to validate age. Still, in other states, serving a minor or selling alcohol to someone under 21 is a stringent offense.
Regardless of the staff member’s attempts to validate the age, the sale would be prohibited, and the staff member would be held accountable.
A few states let the court decision concerning a mistake about a buyer’s age as far as an appropriate sentence for the server or seller.
Before considering a birth certificate or any other form of ID that falls on the non-bona fide or legally unacceptable list of IDs for validating age, it’s wise to consider the state you’re in and the repercussions if you sell or serve someone under the age of 21. A birth certificate will not get a minor alcohol in the United States.
And more establishments are taking extraordinary measures to authenticate acceptable IDs to prevent the chance of selling to a minor since the laws in each state are stringent against those supplying alcohol to minors.
I am a passionate beer connoisseur with a deep appreciation for the art and science of brewing. With years of experience tasting and evaluating various beers, I love to share my opinions and insights with others and I am always eager to engage in lively discussions about my favorite beverage.