Underage drinking is a serious concern in Nevada, and police agencies are always hard at work to remind retailers, beverage servers, and teens that if they do not abide by the laws, they will face consequences. One of the front line defenses used to combat teen drinking is the issuance of driver licenses that not only contain standard information such as a photo and birthdate, but also contain additional clues that the I.D. holder is a minor. Do you know what to look for on a driver’s license to determine if you can legally and safely serve the card holder?
Like other states across the country, Nevada redesigned their driver licenses several years ago to make it easier to spot a minor. Nevada made it easier to spot a minor by switching from horizontal to vertical printing. While driver licenses and identification cards for drivers over the age of 21 follow the traditional horizontal format, driver licenses for those under the age of 21 are printed vertically on the front, and horizontally on the back. Additionally, the DMV imprints an age restriction notice on a minor’s license for any individuals who are aged 18 and under. If the card holder is under 18 at the time of issuance, the card will feature a red banner with the words “Under 18 Until” followed by the date the cardholder will turn 18. Cards issued at ages 18-20 are in the vertical format but do not include the red banner.
When checking a driver license, a hospitality worker should make sure not to always equate the vertically printed with minors only. Remember, 19 and 20 year olds will still hold a vertically printed I.D. card. While they may not be of an age to legally purchase and consume alcoholic beverages, they may still be legally of age to enter 18+ clubs and other venues. Your TAM training will teach you how to use proper diligent inquiry to determine if you’re looking at valid identification. Don’t send revenue somewhere else because you didn’t properly check I.D. Always refer to the birthdate on the front of an I.D. card, and determine if the license is expired or still valid, to correctly determine the card holder’s age, and if you are able to serve them.
For additional tips and tricks for checking I.D. and spotting minors using fake I.D., make sure to complete your mandatory alcohol awareness course with TAM of Nevada. Our seasoned instructors will teach you what to look for, and how to react. Also remember:
- When checking a customer’s birth date, don’t rely solely on the birth year to confirm someone is of legal drinking age. Minors may count on busy servers to only check for the year of birth on an I.D. and try to order alcoholic beverages months before their 21st birthdays.
- Would it be helpful to you to know what to look for on identification from all 50 states and Canada? Most establishments also have a guidebook, like the I.D. Checking Guide, for validating various forms of identification. Ask your manager if you have a guide like this in your establishment and refer to it as needed.
A new survey from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration says Nevada comes in just below the national average for underage drinking with roughly 1 in 4 teens admitting to illegally imbibing. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health found 24.5% of Nevada residents between the ages of 12 and 20 drank liquor in the previous month.
While Nevada numbers fall below the national underage drinking rate of 26.6%, and give the state the 13th lowest rate in the country, this is still an alarming trend. As a service professional, what can you do to reinforce the message that underage drinking is not OK and the majority of underage people do not drink? What more can you do to help prevent underage drinking and keep things safe?
It only takes a minute to check an ID and prevent a minor from entering a bar and buying a drink. Additionally, gas stations, grocery stores and liquor stores are all places that teens turn to in order to purchase liquor, and staffers at those establishments should also take steps to ensure they are doing all they can to prevent illegal sales.
The first defense for sales professionals is a thorough knowledge of local and state laws, and mandatory alcohol awareness training. Alcohol awareness training from TAM of Nevada will teach you how to spot fake, altered and borrowed identification, which is popular with teen drinkers. Also remember that TAM Cards expire after four years, contact TAM® of Nevada if you need to renew your training. Officials may ask to see your alcohol awareness card during an alcohol compliance check.
- State Estimates of Underage Alcohol Use and Self-Purchase of Alcohol: 2008 to 2010 – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
© 2012 National Hospitality Institute®, TAM® of Nevada
Sellers and servers of alcohol in Washoe and Clark counties are required to complete alcohol education and obtain an alcohol awareness card prior to the start of work. If an undercover officer came to your place of employment today to check the status of alcohol awareness card holders, would you be in compliance?
Establishments need to be diligent in requiring staff to check ID’s when making alcohol sales. Every establishment needs policies and procedures to prevent underage persons from obtaining alcohol, and to protect themselves from liability, and the public from harm. 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.
According to Fox Reno, officers on the Street Enforcement Team in Reno, Nevada recently completed alcohol compliance checks at bars and casinos around Reno, and results were surprising. Detectives used underage decoys to enter establishments and try to purchase alcohol. Of the twenty locations visited, bartenders at seven of those locations were cited for selling alcohol to a minor! Remember, selling alcohol to a minor is a very serious offense. TAM® of Nevada provides alcohol awareness training which covers all aspects of furnishing alcohol to a minor, and provides training on spotting fake IDs. Service professionals must be aware of the facts and dangers of teenage drinking and diligent about checking identification.
Additionally, if you are busted serving alcohol to a minor, one of the first things law enforcement and your employer may do is look at your alcohol education card. Of the twenty bartenders mentioned above, all were carrying an alcohol education card. Not all training is created equal; completing your alcohol awareness course with TAM® of Nevada shows you’re serious about obtaining the best alcohol education possible.
Don’t put yourself at risk, always ask for identification, and get educated on effective ways to help stop teen drinking.
Undercover Alcohol Compliance Check Results in Casino Citations – Fox Reno
© 2011 National Hospitality Institute®, TAM® of Nevada
The ban on caffeinated alcoholic beverages, also called alcopop, was one of the biggest stories in the beverage service and sales industry in 2010. Popular beverages such as Four Loko were called dangerous, a binge in a can, and worse. Last November the Food and Drug Administration declared alcoholic energy drinks to be a public health concern. The FDA concluded that caffeine added to malt alcoholic beverages was an unsafe food additive (U.S. Food and Drug Administration).
What made the combination so dangerous? The FDA raised concerns that caffeine additives may have masked some of the effects consumers typically rely on to determine their level of intoxication. In fact, drinkers who consume alcohol mixed with energy drinks are 3 times more likely to binge drink than drinkers who do not report mixing alcohol with energy drinks (Center for Disease Control and Prevention). All of this was alarming enough to get these drinks pulled off of shelves, but also concerning was their popularity with teens and young adults.
Four Loko was, and continues to be, extremely popular with teens. A single can of Four Loko came in at 23.5 ounces, contained 12% alcohol, and also contained unsafe additives caffeine, taurine, and guarana. Four Loko came in much larger, and more potent, than a can of beer. In fact, concerns were raised that these drinks were marketed to appeal directly to teens (Marin Institute).
Several months later, Four Loko is back on shelves, without the caffeinated punch. The drinks have been reformulated and no longer contain additives like caffeine, but they still come in 23.5 ounce containers with 12% alcohol by volume (Omaha World-Herald). Teens may not realize they are consuming as much alcohol as they are until they are well on their way to unsafe intoxication. Four Loko still comes in fruity, teen-friendly flavors like fruit punch and watermelon. It also continues to be the drink of choice for many young people around the country (Bar Business Magazine).
What can you do as a beverage service professional to keep teens safe?
- Make sure that ‘alcopops’ such as Four Loko sold off-premises are displayed in areas dedicated to alcoholic beverages, not in the soft drink section. Many of these drinks can be easily confused for non-alcoholic energy drinks, and it just makes it easier on everyone involved to keep them separate.
- Always card anyone who appears to be under the age of 30. Retailers and off-site sales professionals should be diligent about checking IDs to make sure teenagers are not trying to purchase liquor with fake or borrowed identification.
- For more ways to help curb teens’ access to alcohol, read our blog post, “Teen Drinking is a Dangerous Business,” and refer to We Don’t Serve Teens’ suggestions.
What policies have you instituted at your organization to deter teen drinking?
© 2011 National Hospitality Institute®, TAM® of Nevada