Tuesday, 1:01 P.M.
Everyone who sells and serves alcohol needs to know about two important changes to the law concerning proof of age.
Because if you or your employees inadvertently sold or served alcohol to a minor, you’ll be better able to defend yourself if you properly checked identification (ID). Now, I’m not a lawyer and this isn’t legal advice, but here’s the news:
The Governor approved a bill on October 11, 2009, to amend the law concerning proof of age to buy alcohol.
He approved AB 59 (Jeffries), regarding military ID. In addition, he approved AB 1991 (Conway), on August 5, 2009, regarding passports. Both bills will take effect January 1, 2010.
Current Law: Military IDs
As you may know, for security purposes, the United States military no longer puts a physical description of the cardholder on the military ID. Instead, they electronically encrypt that information to prevent tampering.
Current California law says that military IDs are acceptable as proof of age even without a physical description on the card—as long as the ID includes a date of birth, photo and the person presents another form of bona fide ID (e.g., a driver license or state-issued ID card).
What will change about military IDs?
The Change: A Military ID Will Be Acceptable By Itself
Effective the first of the year, a military ID will be acceptable on its own—without further proof of age. It must still also contain the person’s date of birth and photo.
Current Law: Passports
Currently, only some passports are acceptable as proof of age to buy alcohol. The ones that are acceptable are issued by a governmental agency, they contain the name, date of birth, physical description and picture of the person. Many people don’t’ realize a United States passports are not currently acceptable because they do not contain a physical description.
What will change about passports effective January 1, 2010?
The Change: U.S. and Foreign Passports Will Be Acceptable Without a Physical Description
Effective the first of the year, a valid passport issued by the United States or a foreign government will be acceptable as proof of age to buy alcohol—even though the passport may not contain a physical description.
Good Faith Effort Required for a Defense
As it stands now, you can defend yourself against a charge of selling or serving alcohol to a minor if you show good faith in checking identification. This will continue to be the case. Good faith includes taking the time to carefully inspect the ID, closely comparing it with the person who presents it, and not accepting any obviously altered or fake IDs.
You want to prevent sales to minors, protect your guests and your liquor license, so…
- Inform your staff now about these upcoming changes in the law
- Make any related revisions in your policies and procedures
- Update your training for bar, serving and security staff to include this information
- Update any signage to inform guests of your policies
Stay safe and legal,
Thanks for your question. To sell alcoholic beverages at retail, a person/organization generally needs a license/permit from the state and registration with the Alcohol Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (aka TTB, formerly “Alcohol Tobacco & Firearms” or ATF).
It sounds like you have your state approval, although I’ve never heard of a “letter of approval.”
As to the feds, there is no Special Occupational Tax requirement after July 1, 2005. However, the TTB requires retailers of alcoholic beverages to register and maintain records. The form required is TTB F 5630.5d. If there are any changes or if a retailer goes out of business, the retailer must file Form TTB F 5630.5d again. I don’t know if there is an exception to this for non-profits. You could always email them for more specifics at firstname.lastname@example.org. I hope this helps. Lauren
Dennis Boyles says
I head up a dining and social club with the phoenix az Air National Guard. Our license to serve is a letter of approval from the state alcohol control board. We are incorporated as a non-profit. What do I need to do with the ATF for permission or taxes/fees? Thanks