ID Scanners – Friend or Foe?

ID  scanners have their benefits. They can be helpful in determining whether an ID is the real deal. Scanners can also quickly do the math for determining the age of the person represented by the ID. In these ways, ID scanners are your friends.

However, ID scanners can also be your foe if you rely solely on the scanner. If you are a manager, keep in mind that those who are new or inexperienced at checking IDs will tend to rely on technology. Take caution if you notice that your staff is making the decision to let people in, be served, or buy based on what the scanner says, without using diligent inquiries. A diligent inquiry is a dedicated effort to establish beyond doubt that the potential customer is of legal age to purchase, possess or consume alcoholic beverages.  

By skipping this process and putting all your trust in the scanner, you put yourself and your establishment at risk. Only a human being can do the work of a diligent inquiry.

Here is a scenario that describes why the scanner alone cannot do the work of checking IDs.

You are on duty at the hottest dance club on the strip. It is one busy night with a line a mile long. You scan a drivers license for a young man and get the go ahead to let the person into your establishment. The guy you let in ends up drinking too much and passes out in the bathroom. An ambulance is called and when the medics arrive, they find another ID in his wallet. Guess what? You let a minor into the club. He gave you a valid ID that he borrowed from his brother. The club you work for gets hit with a fine and you might lose your job!

You cannot automate the ID checking process by simply running IDs through a scanner. If you use scanners at your establishment, we recommend that you use them in conjunction with diligent inquiries. You need to confirm that the person represented by the ID is in fact the person standing in front of you. The only way you can avoid this type of scenario is through a diligent inquiry.

If you are a manager, make sure that your staff, especially those who are new or inexperienced, know your house policies for checking IDs and how to use the diligent inquiry technique.

TAM Card Holders, what diligent inquiry strategies did you learn in training and what methods have you successfully used when checking IDs? What are your experiences regarding the use of ID scanners?

© 2010 National Hospitality Institute®, TAM® of Nevada

Big Holiday Parties Are Upon Us!

Everyone is getting revved up for the holiday season and big holiday parties! What does that mean to you as a server, seller, security officer, operator or establishment owner?  You need to be prepared.

  1. Servers, sellers , managers and owners – Make sure your alcohol education card (TAM Card®) is current and in your possession. If your TAM Card® has expired, make sure you retake the training and get your new card before the busiest part of the holiday season is here.
  2. Servers — Be on your toes and observe those in your establishment. Watch how much you are serving and how often. Do the math and keep track of estimated Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) levels. Be sure that your guests are getting enough food and water while they are enjoying their alcoholic beverages. If one of the guests in the group you are serving becomes intoxicated, make sure that they have a safe ride home. Designated driver services and taxis can help get people home safely and without risk to themselves or others.
  3. Sellers — When you have customers coming into your retail store to purchase alcohol, make sure that they are not already intoxicated when you sell to them. Also, inform your employees to beware of potential third party sales and keep an eye out for any minors that are hanging out in your parking lot and approaching patrons about buying them liquor.
  4. Security Officers — Big party nights equal higher energy levels, increased levels of excitement and overindulgence. Be visible and interact with your establishment’s guests to defuse potential issues. Be extra diligent when checking IDs to ensure that you keep the underage out of your 21 and over establishment!
  5. Operators and Owners — Safeguard your establishments by letting your staff know your expectations for properly handling certain situations, like when they need to cut people off and what to do with minors who are trying to enter your establishment. With extra law enforcement out and about over the holidays, you want to make sure that all your servers, sellers and security staff have their alcohol education cards (TAM Cards®) on them at all times.

Guests are also responsible for keeping themselves in check. However, we all know that alcohol lowers inhibitions and affects good judgment, which means there are times when you need to step in and take control of certain situations.

Remember, hospitality is all about creating a fun experience and maintaining a safe environment for your guests and patrons. To achieve these goals, you may have to cut someone off or refuse to serve or sell to a guest because their behavior is negatively affecting the experience for others.

We would love to hear from you! What recommendations do you have for keeping the holidays fun and safe for your guests this season?

© 2010 National Hospitality Institute®, TAM® of Nevada

Are You Committed to Public Safety?

Balancing the business need to maintain a profitable operation with the legal, social and moral responsibilities that protect public health and safety creates the greatest challenge for any owner or manager in the hospitality industry.
The owners of the establishment, through business policies and practices, and you at the point of customer contact, are in complete control of the sales transaction. You have a right and obligation given a certain set of circumstances to serve or not to serve. In the case of off-premises selling situations, the decision is concrete and absolute. The on-premises consumption decision is initially concrete and absolute, but over a period of time becomes clouded by many circumstances and requires using substantial good judgment.
Here are some statistics that are of concern:
 “According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Nevada saw 1.6 alcohol-related traffic fatalities per million vehicle-miles traveled in 2008, a rate higher than the national average.” (View Source
 “Underage drinking is a leading contributor to death from injuries, which are the main cause of death for people under age 21. Annually, about 5,000 people under age 21 die from alcohol-related injuries involving underage drinking. About 1,900 (38 percent) of the 5,000 deaths involve motor vehicle crashes, about 1,600 (32 percent) result from homicides, and about 300 (6 percent) result from suicides.” (View Source)
These are “sobering” numbers and heighten the role that servers and sellers have in protecting their communities.  Public safety must be a personal and professional consideration of everyone in the beverage alcohol industry. Professionals in the retail beverage alcohol industry must adopt the personal value system that the sale of alcoholic beverages to underage persons, and/or persons who are intoxicated, is wrong. This must be a personal belief that guides everyone’s actions in the sale process.
By adopting the responsible hospitality policies and practices, businesses can reduce liability risks, enhance the potential for increased profitability and protect their communities.
What are some challenges that you face in protecting the community and what recommendations would you give to your colleagues in the industry?
© 2010 National Hospitality Institute®, TAM® of Nevada 

Are Minors Using Fake IDs and Sneaking Past You?

Teens and minors can be sneaky, especially when they want to get into the hottest Vegas clubs with their friends. If you’ve been in the industry for a while, then you have probably caught your fair share of minors trying to get past you with a fake ID. Here is a checklist for newbies and those who haven’t had to check IDs in a while:

  • Has the license expired?
  • Does the person in front of you look like the person pictured on the ID?
  • Does the person’s eye color match the eye color stated on the ID?
  • Is the license in a vertical format?
  • Does the birth date text and the expiration text match the text on the rest of the ID?


When an ID does not pass your first inspection, you can question the ID holder and ask more details, such as his/her height, weight, address, birth date, birth year, etc.

Still in doubt? Then, ask for other forms of ID, like bank or credit cards, a work ID or another ID that has the person’s name. You want to ask for these other forms of ID to make sure that it is the same person. If someone is trying to use a fake ID, it is unlikely that they will have another form of ID. 

You can also get a supervisor or manager to check the ID. Most establishments 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 if needed.

It’s better to be safe than sorry. If you aren’t comfortable with the ID, then apologize to the guest and let them know that you cannot validate their identification. Welcome them to return at another time with other identification to confirm their identity and age.

What are some tricks that you’ve seen used by fake ID holders? What would have been helpful to know when you first started checking IDs?

© 2010 National Hospitality Institute®, TAM® of Nevada