Bar patrons may soon be bothered only once to prove they’re old enough to drink.
The state House voted Thursday to prevent businesses from being cited if bartenders and other staff members don’t ask customers to show they’re 21 before serving them a drink. Instead, simply being checked at the door would be enough.
But to get that new legal protection, the operators of the establishment would have to follow certain procedures, which includes making a copy of the identification document presented by the patron.
State law makes it illegal to serve alcohol to those who are not of legal age. But that law does not spell out exactly what bar owners have to do to verify that customers are old enough.
HB2391 essentially guarantees that bars won’t get in trouble if someone younger than 21 manages to get inside, as long as they are following procedure.
Rep. Rich Crandall, R-Mesa, said those procedures are pretty strict.
It requires the person at the door to demand ID, examine it to ensure authenticity, compare the picture with that of the holder to see if it appears to be of the same person and then make a copy of the ID.
Crandall said that could be a photocopy or any other technology. For example, he said a bar could install electronic devices that “read” and record the information directly from the license.
Once all that is done, anyone inside is presumed to be able to drink.
“We’ve given some incentives to a bar to do things above and beyond what normally would be required,” Crandall said.
That means bartenders won’t have to ask for ID, and the bar owner or the bartender can’t be cited for serving alcohol to a minor.
The measure, which now goes to the governor, also contains a provision in which anyone who admits someone who he or she knows to be underage can be jailed for up to six months.