Is this ID checking legal?

Why should it? Who doesn’t carry identification in this day and age? If you’re going to buy beer, isn’t it likely that your identification is kept in the same wallet as your preferred method of payment?

I don’t know anything about the legality of erasing the magstripe on your driver’s license, but as it’s something that could happen by accident, I doubt that you would serve hard time for it. On the other hand, magstripes are much more durable than you would expect, when I intentionally tried to damage some magstripes using NdFeB magnets, I had very little success (I created only tiny errors with strong magnets and lots of time, though I think that heating the stripe would have produced better results).

As Duckster and starfish noted, the magstripe on your drivers license contains your name, birthdate, street address, driver’s license number, and possibly other data. The stripe on your credit card contains your credit card number, expiration date, and name. I don’t know if the machines actually collect data, but there’s no reason to believe that they don’t (a 256MB flash memory card would hold a large amount of data and would easily fit into the chassis of the device). Personally, I refuse to let a cashier swipe my license, and if they don’t like that then I’ll go elsewhere.

Well it was meant more as a joke to express my disbelief at your stringent ID laws but it seems it has got you kinda uptight…maybe you should unwind with a beer? Just make sure you have ID though… :wink:

I agree completley that usually you always carry ID with you but surley on the odd occasion you don’t and it is obvious that you are overage shouldn’t they make an exception to the rule? Or do you have gangs of kids dressing up as old men to get served?

Actually, no. I am from the UK where I carried no ID for the vast majority of the time. You do not need to have a drivers license on your person to drive a car. And my license has no picture on it anyway. My only UK picture ID is my passport, which I would only carry when actually leaving the UK.

Well, I don’t drink a heck of a lot, but I don’t think that it’s as inconvenient as you percieve it to be. As someone said, clerks and servers are usually instructed to ID anyone who looks younger than 35. I’m 29 goin’ on 30, and at least half the time I don’t even get carded. There have been three times I can remember in the last year where I didn’t have my ID when they asked for it, and each time I just said, “Oh, heck, I’m sorry, I don’t have ID with me. I’m 29. If you don’t want to serve me, I understand.” Two of the three times they decided to serve me anyway. However, I usually do my drinking at restaurants, not bars, and am rarely with a rowdy crowd of youngsters.

So needing to show ID to get a drink never bothered me. I do pissed off when people want to see my ID or request unneccessary information for ordinary retail transactions. I refuse to give out my phone number, but I found the other day that at Borders I couldn’t return a pristine, unread copy of a book, with a receipt showing I paid cash, for a cash refund, without showing ID and giving them my name, address and phone number. What the hell is up with that? I mean, I’m sure there are people who abuse their return policy, but is catching those people worth pissing off every customer with a legitimate return?

I got carded buying cigarettes the other day (I’m 60 but don’t look a day over 50) and asked about it at a different store where I didn’t get carded and the clerk said that the first place had been busted for selling cigarettes to an underage person recently and was on probation.

A couple thoughts on all this.

In Texas, I believe that the only document that a retailer or bartender can rely on is an ID card issued by the State of Texas. In other words, they ask for your DL. If you don’t have one, they can’t prove that they checked your age. Passports, out-of-state ID’s, military ID’s, etc. don’t satisfy the requirement. It isn’t really about your (the customer’s) age. It’s about the business protecting its obligation to check the ages of its customers. The law stipulates that the only way to validate a person’s age is to check a State of Texas ID card.

Recently, I purchased a margarita at a Chili’s restaurant in a neighboring county. The county is semi-dry. In other words, you can buy mixed drinks if you belong to a member of a social club or organization. Therefore, in order to get my margarita, I had to join the restaurant’s club. They use some commercial contractor who handles this for them. I now have a little ID card that I am supposed to show at this Chili’s when I buy a drink. They’ve never asked for it. The card won’t work at other restaurants in that county – I would have to join their club. This doesn’t apply to package stores, where my State of Texas DL works fine. Never had one scanned, though.

As to returning a book at Border’s. Their point is to prevent shoplifting. How can you prove that you didn’t walk into the store, select an item, and proceed to a register to “return” it? Collecting your info doesn’t prevent this, but I can’t see that most theives would willingly give their real names in the process of committing a crime. They can also use this info to track a pattern – Mr. Podkayne makes a lot of no-receipt-cash returns. We may want to look into specific shortages at those locations and perhaps refuse him service. That, to me, is a legitimate interest of the business and the the name and ID check are integral parts of the transaction. Now, when the store asks for zip code, area code, or phone number at the point of sale – that’s out of line.

Well, anyway, despite the impression that the Brits on the boards seem to get about restrictive alcohol laws in the United States, it doesn’t seem to me that people are having problems here getting access to booze. It only seems puritanical in writing.

I live in Illinois, and the IL drivers license does not have a magnetic strip. Instead it has a bar code on the back, so a magnet won’t do it any harm. I have never had the bar code scanned before for any reason. What I have seen recently at bars in Chicago and Champaign are devices that take a picture of your entire ID and store it. I was at a bar down at school where they were taking pictures of everyone’s IDs. I didn’t want them to take a picture of mine, but the bouncer said it was either take a picture of the ID or no entry. He made it clear that they keep all the images (he didn’t say for how long) to help prosecute people who start trouble, and to protect themselves from fines should it turn out that an underage drinker got ahold of a fake ID.

It seems to me that taking a picture of the whole ID is even more intrusive than scanning any strip. Not only do they have all your information, they also have your picture.

The only purpose I can see in swiping an ID and storing the information is to establish a paper trail. If the establishment gets audited by the state or federal governments, there is proof that they are checking IDs.

Although the only time I’ve personally confronted a swiping machine, the clerk said she only used it if the license looked phony or the person looked close to underage. (This was in Minnesota, if that matters.) Since I was 29 and not buying cigarettes or alcohol, my license wasn’t even checked, let alone swiped.


It’s not a huge, onerous task to show your ID when buying alcohol or tobacco. In many states, it’s illegal to operate an automobile without your license in your possession. Most people who drive do so often enough that it’s much simpler and easier to keep the license in your wallet all the time instead of taking it in and out all the time. You need a license or state-issued ID card to write a check in most retail establishments. Many businesses require picture ID before running your credit card, to protect against fraud. For these reasons alone, most adult Americans have a license or state ID card on them any time they have their wallets or purses with them. Whipping out a card you always have on you is quite simply no big deal. It’s something so standard to our culture that we don’t even think about it, any more than Brits even think about bagging their own groceries. It’s just something you do, you know?

If you forget your ID and are known to the establishment, they’ll often let you slide. If you forget and aren’t known to the establishment, your forgetfulness often costs you a drink or a pack of smokes. If this is a major inconvenience for you, they’re very sorry, but from their perspective it’s far better for you to be inconvenienced than for them to be slapped with a huge fine because you look much older than you really are. In a country where seventeen year olds spend so much time in the tanning bed that they have crow’s feet, guessing the ages of strangers is a fool’s game.

The magnetic strip on the back of my driver’s license has no information on it. It, um, somehow got erased.

If a bartender doesn’t want to serve me beer because there’s no info on a mag strip, it’s their loss. I’ll find another place to drink…

Nope, never asked, just stated “I need to see your ID.” Turned around, walked to the machine and swiped it.

I don’t have a fake ID (really! the penalties are enormous, not worth the risk), but as a college student I certainly see them often and get offers. Most ID’s you get offered these days are made by offshore professionals with fancy equipment, and they will scan properly. They might be able to bust you via database though, as I think that each large batch of ID’s only has one DL #, so if they get the same number and different names coming up…

I’d be worried about anyone keeping a record of my movements like that, but I am awfully paranoid. I seriously doubt there’d be anything illegal about the practice.

By the way, what is BW3? I know of a Buffalo Wild Wings Bar and Grill, but that’s only two Ws.

Drum God said: Now, when the store asks for zip code, area code, or phone number at the point of sale – that’s out of line.

Now that’s something I get a lot of when I’m out shopping. Radio Shack wants my phone number, Linens N’ Things wants my zip code. When I ask “why?”, they give me some BS about “so we know where our customers are from”.

How much information is too much? How about when the clerks write your driver’s license number on your check? Isn’t it enough that it was properly verified? Now my personal information is in front of whoever sees that check. I hope to hell they are all honest folks.

As a University of Cincinnati student in the late 1980’s, I remember one opening along Vine St. (near UC) around 1989.

I could show you people who tell the exact same story, with the only difference being that they’re 16 rather than 29. (I live in Britain, b.t.w).

I find it quite remarkable that a country often so liberal on, for instance, driving ages, can be so stringent with its alcohol policy. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing (seeing bouncers let in girls who are obviously no older than 15 tends to lower one’s opinion of the establishment), just that it’s surprising…

THat’s the place. It used to be called Buffalo Wild Wings and Weck (note the 3 w’s). Weck is the name of a bread that they served their sandwiches on. They changed their name to Buffalo Wild Wings Bar and Grill a few years ago; I still call them BW-3s out of habit.

But he had a receipt, and they still asked for all that information.

You could always lie though, how would they know.