Common sense might not keep you from being carded

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A 2010 Indiana law that required everyone buying carryout alcohol to show identification, regardless of age, brought lawmakers piles of email criticism and plenty of ridicule from senior citizens frustrated about showing identification to buy a six-pack.

But a change in the law designed to add a shot of common sense might not keep Grandma from being carded the next time she stops to pick up some wine for dinner.

The revised law that takes effect July 1 requires that only those who appear to be younger than 40 show ID when buying alcohol. But some retailers who embraced the stricter provisions as a way to crack down on underage alcohol sales say they're not ready to give customers the benefit of the doubt.

"It was a good policy, it still is a good policy," said Mike Lange, operations manager at Cap N' Cork, a Fort Wayne-based liquor store chain that will continue carding everyone in the store. "People have gotten used to it now."

In fact, the real winners in the new law might be lawmakers, who can use the changes to fend off the kinds of criticism that gave them a post-session hangover.

"Certainly people are entitled to run their businesses the way they want to," said Rep. Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City. "We may still get the complaints, but I will make it very clear about what the law is going to be. If you are a World War II veteran and want to buy a bottle of wine, you're under no legal obligation to show picture ID in order to buy it."

The state law sets a minimum standard when it comes to carding, but businesses have always been able to apply their own standards.

The question for many stores is whether consumers are so annoyed by a strict policy that they'll go somewhere else to shop.

It's a risk retailers appear willing to take.

John Livengood, president of the Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers, urged buyers to understand why stores are sticking with the strict policy.

"If you lose a few people because of that, maybe we'll pick up a few others who are appreciating what we're doing," he said. "There's a worthwhile goal here."

Many retailers liked the law because clerks didn't have to make a judgment call about who appeared to be old enough to buy alcohol.

In the six months before the 2010 law took effect, the Indiana State Excise Police reported 701 violations against businesses that sold alcohol to minors. In the six months after the law took effect, there were 251 violations.

Fewer violations mean fewer fines for stores.

"It doesn't take many underage sales violations to add up in fines to what they might lose in business from a few disgruntled people," Livengood said.

Many stores are still determining what policy to use. The revised law doesn't take effect until July 1, so even senior citizens should prepare to show their ID until then.

"The fate of Western civilization probably does not rest upon this particular ID law, but people did find it to be an annoyance and they did think it was an example of government not acting with very much common sense," Pelath said. "The good lesson is that government, at least in this one case, is still capable of hearing complaints and acting appropriately in response to them."


  • Um -- sorry you're wrong!
    Target DOES scan your drivers license! Do you know what/how much info is stored on your drivers license? I don't -- And it's NOT Target's role to collect info on me!
    So, patronize the Mom and Pop store to buy any/ALL of your alcohol; the 'big boxes' don't need more of my $$$
  • Um -- sorry you're wrong!
    Target DOES scan your drivers license! Do you know what/how much info is stored on your drivers license? I don't -- And it's NOT Target's role to collect info on me!
    So, patronize the Mom and Pop store to buy any/ALL of your alcohol; the 'big boxes' don't need more of my $$$
  • Ah HA!
    Now we know why this annoying law was passed in the first place. The RETAILERS wanted to card everybody, to avoid Excise Police problems and to avoid judgment calls about how old a prospective purchaser was. But they knew that a goodly chunk of way-over 21 people would be annoyed. So, they got the General Assembly to do their dirty work. Now, there are some retailers who have posted signs that inform that they are STILL going to card Grandma. So be it. They have the right to card anybody. But NOW they have to take the heat for the annoyance, and the retailers that maintain the "card everybody" policy will lose some business. This is a more honest and straightforward policy. Liquor vendors now have to face their own annoyance: Tick customers off and lose X percent business. Also, vendors (before the 1 July repeal) didn't have to worry about a competitor adopting a more customer-friendly policy. They do now. Tough beans. Welcome to the Free Market.
  • BFD

    I don't see how this is such a big deal - you pull out your license, you show it to them, you pay. You already have your wallet/purse out.

    The only time I can see an issue is when it's entrance to a brewhouse. Show your license, go inside.

    It's not as though they're scanning in the license(s) to store all of the information in a 1984 system.

    Something more of an inconvenience is when there are sub-21 cashiers at grocery stores and someone of age has to come scan the alcohol. That's not likely to change. Even that is another BFD.

    There are far more things which are bigger wastes of time.
    • Agreed on all counts
      Agreed on all counts but with one caveat - the underlying problem of underage drinking will continue to exist without having real consequences for parents/of-legal-age individuals who supply alcohol, DUI offenders, etc.... In many countries where the BAC limit is .02 and prison time is madatory, the legal limit is 18 or under (increased sin-tax revenue / consistent age to vote???), and they have the added bonus of much lower alcohol-related fatalities.
      • Do it yourself
        Dear Jobs, Jobs, Jobs,
        When did it become the government's role to find you employment? If the state government could pass a law that magically created jobs, I'm sure it would have done it a long time ago.
        By the way, business groups widely praised the past legislature for its pro-business efforts. It probably would have accomplished more if Democrats hadn't gone on vacation for 5 weeks.
      • Job, Jobs, Jobs
        I have said it before and I will say it again. This is proof we have an incompetent state lagislature and governor (and apparently a lot of citizens). We have a law that makes the legal age to buy liquor at 21. All you have to do is uphold that law. Why is the state legislature and the governor waisting their time telling people that to show their ID is not an inconvenience. I'm way older than 21 and it is an inconvenience to me. What I would like the state legislature and the governor to do is find me a job. I seem to remember that last year before the election all the people running for office were talking about finding jobs for us. Where did they get side tracked and spend so much time passing their social agenda acts? I expect we will have to listen to those running again how they are going to find us jobs and I expect that the next session will produce more social agenda acts and no real efforts to find jobs. When you are incompetent you might as well be a state legislator or governor, at least in Indiana.
        • Old Law was fine
          Honestly, who are these people who think they are too important to show their ID? Rep Pelath's remarks are too dumb for words...he says this law was an example of "government overreach", and they have corrected it, like they did something great. Typical of this legislative session...lots of bragging about crap that makes no difference, some serious mistakes that will cost the state a fortune in the long run, like defunding Planned Parenthood...and they are crowing over something like this. When I was in High School we had a friend who looked close to 40...he bought booze for everybody (he is dead now by the way, drank himself to death). You need to card everyone and take discretion out of the hands of the store clerk...despite Indyboogieman's proclamation that the law won't work (and to some degree, he is right, still pelnty of underage drinking, plenty of enabling parent's who buy thier kids booze, let them drink at home, etc.), the Excise people have proof that it does curb sales to minors...2/3 reduction in violations by retailers. go ahead grumpy grandpa/grandma...take your business home because you are too important and busy to show your ID...I will walk in, show my ID while I have my wallet out, and I will be having a cold one while you continue to gaze at your own reflection. I encourage all retailers to continue to ask everyone for ID...just to get Grandpa's goat...congratulations Rep. Pelath...you certainly are making the world a safer better place with less government intrusion for all those grumpy old fogies...Thanks
          • Teatotallers-R-US
            This law is a misguided attempt by the teatotalers and will have no impact on underage drinking or DUI's. Annually, roughly 40k people die on US highways, of which less than 1/2 are alcohol related. Outside of the US (Except the UK) where alcohol is not considered "sinful" by our most pious citizenry (s.unverzagt), drunk driving and binge-drinking is much less prevalent than in the US. When will people stop trying to legislate their morality on others and be consistent with their moralizing on self-accountability (i.e. it's having the opposite effect).
          • Old law was a good law
            The old law was a good law. It's silly to change it now that people have gotten used to it. You already have your wallet out, what's the big deal behind flashing your id if it prevents kids from buying booze?
          • crazy
            I went to high school with a kid that aged prematurely. He was 16 years old and easily passed for 40. He would buy kids booze all throughout high school. I'm sure he isn't the only one.

            The "old" law would have prevented this.
          • But,...
            Well...liz..that didnt make much since. I think what you should have said is 'when you DONT card the 29 year old because she looks over 40"...that would have made more since. Under the new law you only have to card if they look under 40.
          • no to liquor sales
            I'm totally against Sunday liquor sales. They make enough money on this junk. Alot of people don't want it. They should raise taxes on it, maybe this would keep people from buying it. There will be more drinking and driving if this passes.
          • But...But... I'm 39!
            The law puts clerks and liquor store owners in the unenviable position of offending people even if they use "common sense" (whatever that is). When you offend the 29 year old, by carding her because she looks "over 40" or you card the 45 year old because she looks "over 40" - you're ticking people off either way. They may not say anything, but they probably won't be back to patronize your store. It may be immature, it may be unfair, but that's just the way self-image works. "We Card Everyone" - annoying maybe, but not because you'll be offending anyone.

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