Arizona bars, restaurants face harsh punishments if caught allowing vertical IDs

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

School has started in full force, and so have Sun Devil parties. After a week back at school, many bars near ASU campuses said they have seen an influx of the now-illegal vertical IDs, forcing them to turn away more customers or face punishments for breaking the law.

Hartley Rodie, a manager at Gringo Star Street Bar on Mill Avenue, said law enforcement in the area has been very proactive in making sure businesses are aware of the law change and the consequences that come with it.

“They now treat vertical IDs as if they were expired IDs,” Rodie said. “So the punishment would be the same as if we were caught serving alcohol to someone with a hole punched in their ID or had an expired license, which was already totally illegal.” Rodie said he has not heard of any bars or restaurants being punished for selling to someone with a vertical ID, but said law enforcement has devoted extra effort to awareness and stiff punishments in case of a breach of the law.

Rodie said bars and restaurants were given a 30-day notice in early June before the law went into effect, and said he and other employees alerted everyone who came in during that time with a vertical ID that they would need to get a new one.

The announcement came in the middle of summer, when many out-of-state students had left for a few months, so they missed out on the period of notice.

Since the law has been enacted, many bars, particularly ones that cater to college students, have used social media to try and make people aware of the change, so they do not have to refuse service. Employees from bars on Mill Avenue post the rules on their Facebook pages along with drink specials to educate their friends about the new rules.

Rodie said if the bar turns a customer away, he will generally give the patron his business card and offer to let them to the front of the line when they come back with valid ID. He said he tries to explain the change to them while still trying to be sympathetic.

Ron Smith, a manager at Whiskey Rose in Glendale near the West campus, said the law has not affected his business nearly as much as businesses closer to the Tempe campus.

“People don’t generally get mad; it’s just more of an annoyance,” Smith said.

Smith said he also just explains that it is the law now and tells customers the new forms of valid ID, such as passports or military ID that contain a picture.

Lee Hill, a spokeswoman for the Arizona Department of Liquor Licenses and Control, said that since the law has been enacted, distributors of alcohol have all been compliant and flexible, even when dealing with losses in business.

Hill said that the department was hearing many complaints from businesses and consumers alike who were affected by the change, and said the department is aware of unintended complications brought about by the change.

However, Hill said the Motor Vehicle Division is the entity that issues the vertical licenses, which were originally made to aid the Department of Liquor Licenses and Control by identifying underage people easily.

She said because of the departmental difference, coming up with a solution that did not require another department changing its procedures to cater to another was not easily seen.

As for businesses, Rodie said he and his employees had no complaints about a law that was designed to cut down on crime.

“To make the law, they must have had good reason for it,” he said. “We will just keep our heads down and follow the rules.”


Reach the reporter at or follow her on Twitter @CorinaVanek

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