Change in ID requirement law brings 'unintended consequences'

(Photo illustration by Alexis Macklin) (Photo illustration by Alexis Macklin)

Students over 21 who have tried to purchase liquor in the past few months may have faced the headache of being refused because they have a vertically oriented ID card.

Senate Bill 1397, which was passed in the legislative session in April, detailed that driver’s licenses, state-issued identification cards and driver’s permits issued before a person turns 21 are no longer acceptable forms of ID to buy alcohol more than 30 days after a person turns 21.

The rule applies to people who hold both Arizona identifications as well as ID’s from other states, despite license laws in the state where the ID was issued.

Passports, military ID that contain a picture and resident alien ID are also acceptable forms of identification.

This means that within 30 days of turning 21, a person who wishes to purchase alcohol must either get a new horizontal license or state ID, or carry a passport or other forms of identification. Arizona residents who posses a vertical drivers license may also apply for a new one at the Department of Motor Vehicles for a $25 fee.

Students with out-of-state identification said they have felt hassled by the law change and said the change put them in a difficult situation.

After moving back to Tempe in August after spending the summer in California, ASU alumnus Greg Rudolph said he was unaware of the law change when he tried to use his California driver’s license to go to the Vine bar and restaurant on Rural Road and Apache Boulevard.

“I fell into a difficult gray area and was surprised to find the law had changed,” Rudolph said. “As a California resident, I couldn’t get an Arizona driver’s license, and couldn’t visit a California DMV office in person to get a new horizontal ID while I was staying in Arizona.”

Driver’s licenses in California are vertical, and with the new law, the bar would no longer accept his vertically oriented ID.

A bar employee told Rudolph he would need to have his passport mailed to him from California, which he could use as identification or use to apply for an Arizona ID card, so he would not have to change his permanent address from California.

Jerry’s Drive-in Liquor Store and many bars and grocery stores now have signs with pictures of all the acceptable forms of ID that can be used. The Safeway store on Rural Road has notices on each cash register warning that an ID issued to a person before their 21st birthday is no longer allowed to be used when purchasing alcohol.

Bouncers at the Vine and employees at Jerry’s Drive-in Liquor Store expressed that they found the law cumbersome and unnecessary, and said that they have often turned away regular patrons who they had allowed inside before and knew they were of legal age.

Bartender Carl Tanberg said he has noticed that many of his patrons who are near the age of 21 have experienced the hassle, and have been denied service because of their outdated IDs.

Lawmakers called the hassle to out-of-state students and local businesses an “unintended consequence” of the change, Lee Hill said, a spokeswoman for the Arizona Department of Liquor Licenses and Control.

“We’ve been observing the problem on both sides, because the student who is above legal drinking age is not allowed to visit the business, and the business loses a legitimate patron,” Hill said.

Hill said that while the department has received numerous complaints about the change and the problems created, there is not an apparent easy solution.

Hill said that the law will help prevent people from giving IDs to younger siblings or friends, which was a problem not only in Arizona, but across the nation. While students expressed that they are unsure if the law will actually prevent the crime, they agreed that it made accessing liquor with a fake ID more difficult.

Reach the reporter at or follow her on Twitter @CorinaVanek

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