Say there was a record available to all the bars in the state that shows a certified alcohol vendor verified a customer's age with government issued ID. Could that one record of age verification be proof of age for future alcohol purchases?

Does state alcohol law dictate vendors must only use government issued IDs and no other proxy ID?

  • Which city/states ?
    – davidgo
    Aug 9, 2016 at 4:13
  • I leave the question open ended knowing state/city laws can vary. You can use your own familiar local laws as you see fit. Just note which state/city if you'd like.
    – cptncrnch
    Aug 9, 2016 at 4:16

4 Answers 4


I'll give an answer for Washington State, since the question doesn't specify a jurisdiction. The matter of acceptable identification is controlled regulatorily by the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board. The ID rule is WAC 314-11-025, which lists as acceptable identification: driver's license, instruction permit, or ID card from governments of US and Canada, US military ID, passport, Merchant Marine ID from the Coast Guard, or enrollment card from a federally recognized Indian tribe in Washington, if it meets security standards. So, your plan would not work in Washington.

In Ohio, ID procedures specified in ORC 4301.639 require certain government IDs: driver's license, state ID card, military ID, or passport, which is a little different from what works in Washington, but again only government IDs work.

  • 1
    Why is Washington assumed to be the "default" state?
    – Scott
    Aug 9, 2016 at 6:37
  • And why is the USA considered the "default" country? It's not the only country with a minimum age.
    – MSalters
    Aug 9, 2016 at 9:59
  • 4
    If a question doesn't bother to specify a country or state / jurisdiction, I claim the right to exemplify with the systems I'm most familiar with. Otherwise, these questions would always be "too broad".
    – user6726
    Aug 9, 2016 at 15:02

It doesn't really matter what kind of system verification is in place, unless you personally can see the identification, then you cannot trust another person's word on whether they are of age or not. It's perfectly plausible that another bar didn't actually check and just typed them into their system, or they were buddies and they just typed them in so they could get into their favorite bar. Don't take the chance, ever.

Even if such a system as you were talking about scanned in a copy of their ID as part of the verification, there's no saying they didn't actually scan in a fake ID that you might catch by checking it yourself. Bottom line: you're responsible if you sell to a minor and you didn't check their ID yourself. Because if you get busted, the first question they're going to ask is if you saw the actual ID, and if you say no, they're frankly not going to care what other excuses you come up with.

As far as what ID you can accept: pretty much all states have slightly differing laws on acceptable pieces of documentation. You'd have to look up what exactly is acceptable in that particular state, but it's not usually hard information to find. But generally all require it to be a government-issued form of ID that has their photo and date of birth listed.

  • There's a proposed system (for supermarkets) to have remote ID checks (hold up ID to the camera) precisely to avoid what you propose here. The reason is simple: the customer and the seller may be buddies; the person doing the checking is anonymous and cannot be influenced. This idea works of course best in jurisdictions that focus on the goals (ban sales to minors), and doesn't work in jurisdictions that dictate the means (seller must check ID personally).
    – MSalters
    Aug 9, 2016 at 10:05

This would not be a defense to selling to a minor in California. The person being sold alcohol must furnish a bona fide ID, issued by the government, with identifying information like picture, name, and birth date. This needs to be shown to the vendor-licencee-defendent, not some third party.

California Code 25660 http://codes.findlaw.com/ca/business-and-professions-code/bpc-sect-25660.html


New South Wales, Australia

The relevant law is the Liquor Act 2007, the relevant section is 117. It is illegal to supply liquor to minors (under 18s) on licences premises: unlicensed premises are complicated so we won't go there. It is a defence to the charge if:

  • the minor was at least 14, and
  • before the liquor was supplied the person saw an evidence of age document that would reasonably be applicable to the minor that indicated the minor was at least 18.

"evidence of age document" for a person means any of the following documents that bears a photograph of the person and that indicates (by reference to the person’s date of birth or otherwise) that the person has attained a particular age, but does not include any such document that has expired or otherwise appears not to be in force:

(a) a motor vehicle driver or rider’s licence or permit issued by Roads and Maritime Services or by the corresponding public authority of another State or Territory or under the law of another country,

(b) a Photo Card issued under the Photo Card Act 2005 ,

(c) a document (referred to as "an existing RTA proof of age card" ) issued by the Roads and Traffic Authority under section 117EA of the Liquor Act 1982 and in force immediately before the repeal of that section by this Act, Note : Existing RTA proof of age cards cease to be valid for any purpose on 14 December 2008-see Division 3 of Part 2 of Schedule 1 to this Act.

(d) a proof of age card (however described) issued by a public authority of the Commonwealth or of another State or Territory for the purpose of attesting to a person’s identity and age,

(e) an Australian or foreign passport,

(f) any other class of document prescribed by the regulations for the purposes of this definition.

There are currently no relevant regulations that deal with (f).

In addition, the person supplying it must have a current Responsible Service of Alcohol qualification and either be or be under the supervision of the Licensee for the premises.

So, each person even within a premises must satisfy themselves that the person they are supplying is not a minor, they cannot rely on anyone else's say so.

  • Could the premise then rely on their past interaction with the patron? Would it be legal to sell alcohol to a repeat patron who is of age if, hypothetically, the premise has verified their age on record? Say, the record could only be matched by that one person and never an imposter.
    – cptncrnch
    Aug 9, 2016 at 7:13
  • It is always legal to sell to someone of age - no verification required. Now, when will you take the risk?
    – Dale M
    Aug 9, 2016 at 9:40
  • The point is, in NSW it is not only the premises that gets fined: it's the employee that serves the liquor.
    – Dale M
    Aug 9, 2016 at 9:41

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