[r85] Pond Report: State Legislators Consider Changes to ID for Alcohol Law (1/24/2011)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Start Date: 1/24/2011 All Day
End Date: 1/24/2011
Last year the Indiana General Assembly passed a bill that requires retailers to card anyone purchasing alcohol to ensure that they are at least 21 years of age.

One of the main reasons so many legislators supported the bill was because it was believed that requiring businesses to check the identification of anyone purchasing alcohol would cut down on underage Hoosiers buying alcohol.

However, in the months since the law took effect, many Hoosiers have expressed concern that the General Assembly over-reached itself with this identification requirement. Many State Representatives have received calls and e-mails from their constituents commenting about the identification requirement. Many citizens cited instances of Hoosiers who are evidently over the age of 21 were not able to purchase alcohol either at a restaurant or local retailer because they did not have proper identification.

Comments like these have raised several valid concerns in the practicality of this law. In many cases it seems illogical to ask an individual who may already be receiving retirement benefits for their identification when purchasing alcohol.

On the other side, many Hoosiers are fine showing their identification whenever they purchase alcohol, and view the new law as a minor inconvenience in the effort to stop underage drinking.

However, it is important that proactive steps are taken to prevent underage drinking. Before this law was passed, there was no language in Indiana code requiring the carding of individuals purchasing alcohol. While it is illegal to sell alcohol to anyone under the age of 21, the retailer was responsible for ensuring they did not break that law. As a result, retailers began carding all customers to make certain they were not selling to minors.

As the code now stands, after the passage of last year's law, the State of Indiana requires retailers to card all customers purchasing alcohol or face criminal charges.

Nearly a year after the passage of the "Universal Carding" law, the General assembly is discussing House Bill 1325, which would address possible changes to the new law. As the bill now stands, it would exempt retailers from having to card individuals who purchase alcohol that look under the age of 40. This change would aim to eliminate the unnecessary carding of individuals who obviously appear over the age of 21.

Sometimes when laws are passed they turn out being better in theory than practicality.

So what do you think, should the law be changed to avoid the nuisance of carding individuals who are 50, 60, 70, or even 80 years old, or should it be kept the same to ensure that all retailers are carding consumers?

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State Rep. Phyllis Pond (R-New Haven) represents portions of Allen and DeKalb counties.