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  • Foreigners barred from drinking in Californian bars?

    Posted by Ralf Goergens on July 15th, 2005 (All posts by )

    This is from Heidi McDonald who is right now attending the Comic-Con in San Diego:

    The oddest incident of the night was a Hyatt bartender telling two English guests that their passports weren’t adequate ID to get a drink. “You’re going to need to fix those,” said the vigilant barkeep. “In California you need to have ID that gives a description. You need a driver’s license.” He took pity on them and gave them one drink “this time.”

    The English drinkers were understandably daunted by the prospect of having to get Californian driver’s licenses before the end of the show, and quite sensibly went back to their room to drink.

    Is this a Californian speciality, or even just one of the Hyatt in San Diego, or do I have to apply to drivers’s licences in all 50 states now, just in case I want to drink in a bar? That wasn’s the case in the last decade, but times might have changed.

     

    13 Responses to “Foreigners barred from drinking in Californian bars?”

    1. Shannon Love Says:

      It may not be law per se but merely a Hyatt policy intended to prevent the hotel from being liable for serving to underage drinkers with fake IDs. The consequences to the hotel could be severe if this was to happen including loss of liquor license and even a huge lawsuit if somebody gets hurt. It would seem however, that a hotel in a costal city would accept passports for ID.

      I imagine this particular case is overzealousness on the part of an individual bartender but the neo-puritians now running riot are pursuing a strategy of prohibition by harassment. They seek to make it so difficult to actually undertake the behavior they disapprove off that people won’t do it out of sheer exasperation. They did it with smoking and now they are doing it with drinking. Shifting the responsibility for the negative consequences of excesses drinking from the drinker to the server is part of this overall tactic. Servers who sell alcohol based on an insufficient or fraudulent ID can be held legally responsible for any negative events.

    2. incognito Says:

      That’s pretty ridiculous, especially since passports state birthdates. I think it is overzealousness on the part of the bartender. What they should have done was to go to his boss, or even the Hyatt front desk. Presumably they needed to check in with a credit card or some form of payment requiring official ID.

    3. Knucklehead Says:

      There’s more to this, somewhere, than a matter of ID. Perhaps hotel policy (which doesn’t seem likely for a Hyatt in a major metropolitan location) or the bartender doesn’t like “Limeys” or the patrons did something that made the bartender nervous and jerky.

      As for the 50 driver’s licenses, Ralf, no need. One from any state will do in all 50 (and several very nice islands in the hemisphere, IIRC) ;>

    4. Lex Says:

      Maybe the bartender thought they’d already had enough, and didn’t want an argument, so he made up this thing about the IDs to get them out of the bar. Maybe there is far less to this than appears at first glance.

    5. Ralf Goergens Says:

      Alright, you poeple take a load of my mind. :)

      Especially:

      As for the 50 driver’s licenses, Ralf, no need. One from any state will do in all 50 (and several very nice islands in the hemisphere, IIRC) ;>

      Whew!

    6. Ralf Goergens Says:

      Shifting the responsibility for the negative consequences of excesses drinking from the drinker to the server is part of this overall tactic. Servers who sell alcohol based on an insufficient or fraudulent ID can be held legally responsible for any negative events.

      I think you are right, Shannon.

    7. Bruce Chang Says:

      I think the propensity to check IDs has been on the rise. I look nothing like underage, but I’ve been carded at every single establishment that sells liquor over the past two months. I haven’t heard that the ATF is getting more active, so I’d assume that the local cops are enforcing a bit more now, probably at least partially to prop up their sagging budgets.

    8. Ginny Says:

      Meaningless personal anecdotes that support comments:

      I couldn’t figure out why the girl at Target wanted to seen my license. She was surprised, saying the cash register said she had to. It didn’t dawn on me for another day that some wine was in those purchases. The fact neither the clerk nor I thought of this as “carding” reflects the fact that, well, many of my high school classmates have grand children that are getting married.

      On the other hand, I ran a business down the block from the bars that have a reputation for selling more beer per square foot than any other establishments in the world. The streets at closing time were not pleasant.

    9. Dr. Weevil Says:

      Maybe the bartender was just stupid. Back in college, I accompanied a classmate to the liquor store on his 21st birthday to buy some celebratory liquor, and the clerk refused to sell him any liquor. When shown a driver’s license with the appropriate year, month, and day (the 27th, I think), he kept saying (very slowly, as if he thought we were stupid) “but TODAY’s the 27th”. In short, he seemed to think you’re not 21 until the day after your 21st birthday. Of course, if my classmate was born late in the evening, he wasn’t quite 21 full years old when he entered the liquor store, but legally I’m pretty sure you turn 21 at midnight.

    10. SparcVark Says:

      Interesting qualification on the “good in all 50 states” bit – when I worked as an intern for IBM in Vermont (summer of ’96), out-of-state drivers’ licenses were *not* considered valid proof of age for purchasing alcohol. Apparently I would have had to take my valid Michigan license to the state excise office, have it checked, and be issued a little proof-of-age certificate in order to be legal.

      The consequence? Even though I was only just past twenty-one, I never got carded in bars, nor did I ever see anyone else getting carded. I saw people drinking in Nectar’s in Burlington who looked like they were about fourteen.

    11. Ralf Goergens Says:

      In short, he seemed to think you’re not 21 until the day after your 21st birthday. Of course, if my classmate was born late in the evening, he wasn’t quite 21 full years old when he entered the liquor store, but legally I’m pretty sure you turn 21 at midnight.

      Maybe the fines are so high that they don’t want to take any chances.

    12. Green Bear Says:

      Never ascribe to foul motives that which can be attributed to foolishness.

      I’ve seen bartenders reject passports too. I have, on occassion, tried to teach them that drivers licenses aren’t the only valid identification … one time there was a policeman there, and I asked if his badge was identification. The cop quickly said that the passports were better than most ID’s, including licenses. That seemed to persuade that one … misguided “bartender” (the scare quotes are due to other issues with that fellow … let’s just say that the elevator wasn’t serving all floors …).

    13. Pen Says:

      Apparently I would have had to take my valid Michigan license to the state excise office, have it checked, and be issued a little proof-of-age certificate in order to be legal.