News From Terre Haute, Indiana

June 7, 2010

Purchasing alcohol? You'll soon need a photo ID no matter what your age is

Howard Greninger
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Just days before many celebrate the Fourth of July holiday, Hoosiers heading to grocery stores, convenience marts or liquor stores to purchase alcohol will need a photo ID under a new state mandatory

carding law.

Starting July 1, any licensed server selling alcohol for off-premise consumption will be required to card the buyer, regardless of age. The valid ID must have a photograph and date of birth. Anyone failing

to check for an ID during a

transaction can be cited with a

criminal misdemeanor.

Kara Anderson, store manager at Maui Stop & Shop at Seventh Street and Springhill Drive in Terre Haute, has already enacted policies to reflect the new state law.

“We started carding everyone in the last week of March by posting that everyone needs to have an ID to purchase anything, so that includes lottery tickets, cigarettes and alcohol. That is what we do. That is our policy,” Anderson said.

Anderson said if someone is obviously well over age 40, store clerks had not been asking for an ID, but that will change July 1.

“We have put into our computer system that after they [store clerks] look at an ID, a birthday date needs to be entered for the registered sale to go forward. That will be stringently enforced for alcohol,” Anderson said.

“If they can’t produce a picture ID, we don’t sell it, even if it is a lottery ticket. That is just the policy here,” she said.

Anderson said when the policy was first started, customers balked mostly for the purchase of lottery tickets. “About 75 percent of the people 40 or over found it amusing. They would kinda chuckle and say it has been a long time since anyone asked for their ID. For the most part, people are understanding,” she said.

John Livengood, president and CEO of the Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers, said the association has supported mandatory carding legislation for years, as the biggest benefit will be to employers.

“Anyone who is in the business knows how difficult it is catch fake IDs and stop kids from buying and is in favor of this,” Livengood said. “I know it is an inconvenience for some of our customers, but it is a small inconvenience for the benefits of dealing with a major problem.”

Livengood said Indiana is among a few states, joining Tennessee and West Virginia, along with some municipalities, that require a mandatory ID check. Livengood said most restaurants in major airports also require photo ID checks, “so it is becoming the norm,” he said.

“This will help employers to get their employees to [check] each and every time, and more importantly, to check when they need to do it for when that kid comes through who looks 30 but he is not,” Livengood said.

Livengood said retailers, such as convenience or grocery stores, have a high turnover in clerks. Those clerks who sell to minors are most often fired, yet the employer is still held responsible. “This will be helpful. It is a way of making sure,” he said.

Restaurants, bars and other businesses where patrons consume alcohol onsite are not impacted by the change in the law.

Lisa Hutcheson, director of the Indiana Coalition to Reduce Underage Drinking, said Indiana’s new carding law may result in an increase of minors turning to adults for alcohol.

“Now that the new carding law goes into effect July 1, there is likely to be an increase in young people trying to get adults to purchase alcohol. Typically how it is works, [teens] will sit in a parking lot or a grocery store and ask adults as they go in to purchase alcohol for them,” Hutcheson said.

That is called a third-party transaction and is also against Indiana law. Like the new carding law, that also carries a B-misdemeanor penalty, but can be a class-A misdemeanor if it involves a prior unrelated conviction or a class-D felony if it causes serious bodily injury or death of any person.

“I think kids are clever and they’ll try whatever they can try to get it [alcohol]. I also think it depends on the community,” Hutcheson said. “In a community where underage drinking is more of a problem or where retailers are not as much onboard as in other communities, you will see more of an increase in those communities,” Hutcheson said.

Last year, the nonprofit Mental Health America of Indiana paid for billboards throughout Terre Haute that stated “Vigo County has one of the worst underage drinking problems in the state.”

The organization stated that 1 in 5 eighth-graders drink alcohol and that 1 in 13 parents surveyed in Vigo County are likely to serve children alcohol.

Rep. Clyde Kersey, D-Terre Haute, said that while he supported the bill in the legislature, he had some reservations on part of the legislation.

“I think it probably went too far from the standpoint of requiring a photo ID for everyone. If a guy is 85 years old, he shouldn’t have to show his ID to buy alcohol. I think the intent was right, to try to prevent underage drinking and underage sale of alcohol,” Kersey said.

“There were other issues that were probably more important and were discussed more and that is why I think it passed,” Kersey said. The measure was part of a comprehensive alcohol bill that allowed alcohol sales on Election Day, allowing Sunday carryout at brew pubs, and allowed bars to serve until 3 a.m. Sunday night/Monday morning.

Bob Baesler, owner of Baesler’s Market, said his store will begin carding all customers on July 1.

“I don’t think it will affect sales and I don’t think customers will mind it. If it helps cuts down on underaged drinking, that is fine, and I think all people are in favor of cutting down on that,” Baesler said.

“I know there has been criticism that it is a silly law to card 70-year-old people, but the silly law is the cigarette law, which is you are supposed to card people 27 years or younger. How do you know if someone is 27 or not? I like the idea of carding everybody,” Baesler said.

In addition, people must be 18 years old to buy a state lottery ticket, “yet a 17-year-old could purchase a lottery ticket in a vending machine,” he said. Baesler said his store tries to police such purchases and keeps vending machines in view of store clerks.

“I think it will just be easy when you say ‘this is the law.’ It is not like it is a store policy or some stores will do this. It will be no matter where they go” statewide, Baesler said.

Greg Derickson, 38, of Terre Haute said that currently, a person convicted of driving while intoxicated, who has had their license revoked, can still buy beer without being carded. That will change under the new law, he said.

“I don’t have a problem with it,” Derickson said.

Sporting a long gray beard and mustache, Gary Brinson of Terre Haute said he also supports the idea.

“If it stops underage drinking, I’m for it,” he said. “I’m 55 years old and think it is an honor to ask me” for identification. “It doesn’t bother me being carded.”