Monday, January 28, 2008

Can I See Your I.D.?

By: Julie Hartz

It’s a question asked countless times on any given Friday or Saturday night in Athens, Ohio. But even though bouncers and bartenders on the Court Street bar scene ask this question, it doesn’t mean they will get an honest response.

Video of the bar scene in Athens

Students have been using fake I.D.s for a very long time, and it is a bar’s responsibility to know if an I.D. is real or not. That’s a lot easier said than done, especially when hundreds of customers are pouring in to get a drink.

Law Director Pat Lang discusses the Ohio Underage Drinking Law

Andrew Schwartz, a bartender at 19 South on Court Street, said, "Generally it's an older sibling or you can just find someone who looks like you. There's enough people who look alike it's not too difficult." Schwartz was a bouncer before he started bartending once he turned 21. Although he was filled both roles, he says because of the Ohio Law, "It's really all on the bartenders themseles."

Schwartz talks about dealing with Fake Identification

Recently a bartender at The Pub took a hit when he served two underage girls on Halloween weekend. Even though there was a bouncer at the front of the bar asking for I.D.s, the bartender who served the drink is the one who took the blame. This may not sound fair, but under Ohio law, that’s the way things are handled. The person who actually serves the drink is the one who gets in trouble for doing so.

How to Spot a Fake

How can this be avoided? Certainly bartenders don’t want to be getting in trouble for someone else’s decision to use false identification. Here are some tips on what to do if you think an I.D. is fake:

1. Ask for a second form of Identification
2. Quiz the person on information on the I.D. For example: Birth date, Street Address, Social Security number (if provided), etc.
3. Have the person sign a blank piece of paper and compare the two signatures
4. If an I.D. is from another state, check it against the provided I.D. Drivers License Book.
5. Check the features of the person giving you the I.D. against the I.D. itself
6. Check height and weight.
7. Check the expiration date.

If the person does not pass any of these tests, chances are you are dealing with a fake.

How to Stay Out of Trouble

Now for those students who desperately want to go to the bar but unfortunately are not of age, there are plenty of other things to do to stay out of trouble.

Ohio University provides a lot of activities on the weekend to occupy your time. There are Midnight Movies every Friday and Saturday night in the Baker Center Theater. Live bands play at the Front Room on the weekends, and with a Division I athletics program, sporting events are a social, entertaining option.

If you decide to partake in underage drinking, you have to realize the risk you are taking. Be ready to take responsibility for your actions if you are caught, and for the sake of the bouncers and bartenders in Athens, don’t use a fake.

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