Imagine this: you are serving beverages to customers, just like any other day. A younger couple visits your establishment and orders two glasses of chardonnay. You size them up and they seem sober and confident, but they look like they might be a little young. Think fast – what do you do? Ask to see I.D., or make the sale and send them on their way? If you chose option number two, you would have failed the test.
This past Saturday marked Reno’s Wine Walk event, and twelve businesses were cited for serving minors. The Reno area’s Regional Street Enforcement Team, comprised of area police departments, conducts regular alcohol compliance and TAM Card checks. On Saturday, the Team sent four 18-20 year-old volunteers out to attempt alcohol purchases at 51 area businesses. This time around, twelve of those businesses made sales to the minors. These volunteers were given instructions to show their actual state-issued I.D. if they were asked for it, clearly identifying them as underage, according to authorities.
The penalties can be severe. In Nevada, serving alcohol to a minor and allowing a minor into a bar are misdemeanors, with a pre-designated fine of $500. Now, think about your training. Would you pass an alcohol compliance check? Here are some tips for keeping things safe and legal:
- Get your mandatory TAM® Card and alcohol awareness training. TAM® will train you on how to correctly check identification and how to spot fake, borrowed, or altered ID. Police officers may ask to see your alcohol awareness card during an alcohol compliance check, so it is important to be prepared.
- Check ID very carefully, and look for any inconsistencies. Watch for anyone who seems either nervous, or over confident. When checking the birth date of a customer, don’t rely only on the birth year alone to confirm someone is of legal drinking age. Minors may try to pull a fast one on busy or distracted workers by purchasing alcohol just a few months or weeks shy of their 21st birthdays. As evidenced by this recent operation, doing the math correctly is very important.
Every establishment needs policies to prevent alcohol sales to minors, and to protect themselves from liability, and the public from harm. Tell us in the Comments below – how else do you think service workers can help curb teen drinking?
I.D. checking is one of the most important jobs of a hospitality professional. Checking I.D. keeps patrons safe, and it keeps things legal. Here at the TAM of Nevada office, we often get questions from students about which documents can be used as valid forms of identification for the purpose of selling alcohol. In a town like Las Vegas, full of tourists from around the world, with varying forms of I.D., do you know what you can accept?
Valid identification must be government-issued, contain the person’s photo, contain their birth date, and not be expired. Depending on the type of I.D. being presented, and which state or country it is issued from, it may also contain other information such as signature, mailing address, or gender. Nevada driver licenses, for example, also contain a signature.
Accepted forms of I.D. include:
- Driver License or State Identification Card – These are the most commons forms of I.D. that hospitality professionals will be presented with.
- Military ID – You may also see these, particularly around military bases.
- Passport or Immigration Card – A passport is another common form of identification, particularly in a tourist town such as Las Vegas. Likewise, a Green Card (permanent resident card) is also acceptable I.D.
Forms of I.D. that are NOT acceptable for making alcohol sales include:
- Concealed Firearm Permit – While a concealed weapon permit is a form of state-issued identification, it is not an acceptable identification for serving or selling alcohol. According to Nevada law at NRS 202.3653 – 202.369, Concealed Firearm Permits are valid for a period of 5 years and can be renewed for additional 5 year periods. A permit holder must carry the permit together with proper identification whenever they are in actual possession of the concealed firearm(s). For I.D. checking purposes, the permit is only good when you are also carrying another acceptable form of identification, so the point is moot for alcohol sales. A gun permit holder must also have another form of identification on their person. If you are presented with a concealed firearm permit to check I.D., simply ask to see their driver license or other form of identification.
- Driver’s Authorization Card (DAC) – In Nevada, a Driver’s Authorization Card looks like a lot like driver’s license, but is not valid for serving alcohol, entering facilities where I.D. is required, or boarding an airplane.
- Student ID, TAM® Card, and other non-government issued Photo I.D. – While a valid TAM® Card includes a photo of the card holder, that’s not enough to confirm identification. The same holds for student I.D.s and similar forms of membership identification.
When in doubt or if you have questions about I.D. checking, speak with your supervisor and review company policy for acceptable forms of identification. Your establishment may have an identification guide like the I.D. Checking Guide for you to use – this will show you what to look for on various forms of I.D. to confirm authenticity. Additionally, your TAM® alcohol awareness class will teach you how to spot valid and bogus identification. For more information, visit our blog post on I.D. checking.
Questions or feedback? Head to the Comments section below and let us know about your I.D. checking experiences!
Teenagers can be sneaky, especially when they want to make their way into the hottest 21+ Las Vegas clubs. Businesses and service professionals should always remain focused when carding individuals who appear to be under 35 years of age. Recently, more sophisticated and convincing fake IDs have begun appearing on the market. This new breed of fake identification, complete with watermarks and barcodes, is popping up in more and more states, and it can be almost impossible to tell them apart from the real thing. At a cost of less than $200, enterprising teenagers and young adults are able to purchase very realistic fake driver’s licenses on the internet, often from suppliers in China, and they are finding it easier than ever to enter bars and clubs or purchase liquor.
According to a news story from the News4 I-Team, a test was performed using a scanning device popular with bar bouncers and taverns, and many seized licenses held by police were tested. Approximately 100 of those tested successfully deceived the machine, reading and displaying on the scanner as if authentic. To learn more about these new fake ID’s, check out News4’s article on the subject.
Are you aware of these new high-tech fake IDs, and are you making sure you are doing all you can to check the legitimacy of the identification presented to you? Make sure you are up-to-date on your TAM® training to additional learn tips and tricks for checking ID, and remain vigilant about traditional ways to spot bogus identification. Checking for valid identification is a major component of TAM® training.
Still want to make sure you’re doing everything you can to help prevent underage drinking? Check out our blog posts, “Are Minors Using Fake IDs and Sneaking Past You?” and “ID Scanners – Another Weapon to Combat Underage Drinking”
TAM Students: What are your experiences regarding the use of ID scanners? What would have been helpful to know when you first started checking IDs?
© 2014 National Hospitality Institute®, TAM® of Nevada
Over 200,000 hospitality and service workers are employed in Clark County, most of who are required, by state law, to receive alcohol awareness training and carry an alcohol education card. How many of them work for you? Are you confident that your staff was properly trained to spot minors using fake I.D. and to take the risk seriously?
A recent news story out of California details the dangers of lax beverage service policies. The Camino Real Restaurant in Bakersfield had its liquor license suspended in 2011 for 20 days after employees served alcohol to a minor who later died in a DUI crash. This week the California Alcoholic Beverage Control has revoked the restaurant’s liquor license for serving alcohol to minors in a decoy operation; this happened while the restaurant was still on probation for the original 2011 offense.
California isn’t the only state to get tough on liquor laws. Nevada law enforcement agencies are working to strictly enforce state and local laws, and are performing routine decoy operations and sobriety checkpoints. In Nevada, hospitality workers who are caught serving minors may be charged with a misdemeanor which can result in up to 6 months in jail and up to a $1000 fine. Owners and managers of businesses that are caught selling alcohol to minors can also be issued citations and could face the revocation of their business licenses.
Every establishment needs policies and procedures to prevent underage persons from obtaining alcohol, and to protect themselves from liability, and the public from harm. Additionally, losing a liquor license means a loss of liquor revenue which can cripple an establishment’s profits. Decoy operations are not just used to catch those selling alcohol to minors, they can also be used to check the validity of your alcohol education card and whether it is expired. Make sure your TAM® training is up-to-date or sign up today for one of our alcohol awareness classes.
Don’t put yourself or your business at risk. Always ask for identification, and get educated on effective ways to help stop teen drinking.
© 2013 National Hospitality Institute®, TAM® of Nevada