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How California Works to Reduce Underage Drinking

F. Michael Ayaz

According to NBC Bay Area, a recent survey showed that the top way California teens obtain alcoholic beverages illegally was through shoulder tapping. This means that a minor uses an adult decoy at the legal drinking age to purchase them liquor, often while they stand just outside the store. Roughly one in 10 drinking-age adults agree to purchase the liquor when approached by minors.

Law enforcement agencies now employ their own decoys to prevent underage drinking. One method the agencies use is to send a minor who is a decoy into the stores. When clerks do not check IDs, they may receive citations or get arrested. Using this method, law enforcement agencies arrested 3,200 people in 2018.

According to the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, servers of alcohol must ask for and inspect a bona fide I.D. before serving substances to patrons. The ABC also reminds servers that they are under no obligation to provide liquor even to paying customers. No one has a legal right to buy liquor, but servers have the legal right to refuse service.

Many servers may wonder what counts as a bona fide I.D. In order to be considered legally acceptable, it must generally include all six of these data types on the one card:

  • Photograph
  • Date of birth
  • Currently valid
  • Name of the patron
  • Physical descriptions
  • Issued by a government agency

The most common form of acceptable I.D.s is a driver’s license. Keep in mind that by the start of 2020, servers may accept military I.D.s, U.S. passports and foreign passports even though they may lack physical descriptions. Note also that an individual may not combine two I.D.s with incomplete data to serve as one acceptable I.D.

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