Some restaurants and servers in the state might start taking a harder look at IDs when serving alcohol.
A bill, which is now in the Virginia General Assembly, would make it a misdemeanor crime for individuals such as store clerks and waiters to not ask for identification when serving alcohol.
The bill has passed the House of Delegates and the Senate Courts of Justice Committee approved it on Friday. To become a law, it must be approved by the Senate overall and then signed by the governor.
The bill is aimed to make the individual server responsible for checking IDs instead of just the businesses that are selling the alcohol.
Currently, if a business or individual sells alcohol to someone they have “reason to believe” is under 21, they could be charged with a class one misdemeanor and face up to one year in prison and a $2,500 fine. This law would increase the crime to a class three misdemeanor for failing to check an ID altogether.
Chris Head, R-Botetourt County, introduced the bill after the Roanoke Area Youth Substance Abuse Coalition approached him regarding the issue. If passed, the offense would carry a maximum penalty of $500.
Kathy Graham Sullivan, RAYSAC director, said that although it may seem like the bill is meant to affect college towns, it’s not targeted at any specific population.
“It’s a community effort to reduce underage drinking,” Sullivan said. “The bill puts the burden of proof back on the servers or the clerk."
Sullivan also hopes it will discourage servers in college communities from looking the other way when serving alcohol to a friend.
"That won't be happening any more," she said. "They can't."
Brendan King, a waiter at a local restaurant and Tech student, understands the importance of checking, IDs but thinks the legislation may be a little out of touch with college students.
"I understand the reasoning behind the bill, but I feel like if underage teens want to drink, they will find others ways to obtain alcohol," he said.
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