Bill advances to set 40 as Indiana’s alcohol ID age

Store clerks would no longer be required to check the identification of those who appear older than 40 when buying alcohol under a revision to state law endorsed Wednesday by an Indiana House committee.

The bill would change a much-ridiculed law that took effect last summer requiring everyone — regardless of age — to be carded for carryout alcohol.

The House public policy committee voted 12-0 to advance the bill to the full House for consideration after amending what had originally been a bill to completely repeal the law.

Bill sponsor Rep. Greg Steuerwald, R-Danville, said it was a "commonsense" revision. Under the new version, clerks could face a misdemeanor charge if they don't check the IDs of anyone who "reasonably appears to be less than 40 years of age."

Rep. Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, said legislators made a mistake with the ID law, which has faced complaints about people in their 70s and 80s being carded in liquor stores.

"We need to admit it frankly and undo it," he said.

Liquor store representatives have supported the stricter ID law, saying it wasn't that inconvenient and that it had led to a drastic drop in attempts by minors to buy alcohol because they know they'll be carded.

John Livengood, president of the Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers, said the 40-year limit was a decent compromise but that there was some support for raising that to 50.

"The important thing for us as retailers is to make sure that our clerks do ask for the ID," Livengood said. "If you give them the ability to make a discretionary call, then unfortunately they stop carding when they should."

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