The law states that a customer must be at least 21 years of age to purchase alcohol.
The acceptable types of identification for determining age include:
In order to be acceptable, an ID should include a photograph of bearer, signature, height of bearer, date of birth and expiration date. (3 VAC 5-50-20)
Types of unacceptable IDs include college/university ID, expired ID, social security card, government work ID, resident alien card, green card, international driver's license, INS border crosser card and INS worker's authorization card.
Cards issued to persons age 15–21 are vertical in format. The background image is of a dogwood flower. If a person attempting to purchase alcohol or tobacco presents a vertical license to you, look extra hard to verify that the person is of legal age! Check the bottom left for the dates that the person turns 18 and 21 years of age.
Cards issued to people age 21 and over are horizontal in format. The background image is of the state capitol. Check the expiration date to verify that the card is valid.
Fake identification can take various forms, including:
If you are unsure whether an ID is valid, do not sell alcoholic beverages. One technique is to compare the ID to a secondary form of identification. Examples may include a credit card, social security card, student ID, and a fishing or hunting license. Be careful when accepting any ID as a second form to ensure that the second form of ID is valid. Hold them both together and compare to see if they match.F-L-A-G is a simple way to remember how to properly check ID:
Can I take an ID if it’s fake?
The ID is the personal property of the person presenting it to you. Only law enforcement has the right to keep the ID. You have the right to inspect an ID. You may tell the customer that you are going to ask law enforcement to examine the ID. If the customer leaves the store without it, you may turn the ID over to the police. If the customer asks for the ID back, however, you must return it to them. Military IDs are the property of the U.S. government and must be turned over to the U.S. government.
What do I do with an ID someone has left?
Document the incident. Write down a description of the customer, any statements made and if anyone else was with the customer, vehicle description, etc. Call local law enforcement and your ABC special agent. They can investigate and find the person who used it or the person to whom it belongs.
Who is liable?
The individual who makes an illegal sale may be criminally responsible and therefore may be arrested. A conviction of the offense may result in a fine, jail time or both. The business is administratively responsible and therefore may be issued an administrative written violation report. A hearing may be held resulting in monetary fines, suspension of the license or both. Just because an ID was checked at the door, it is still a good idea to check the ID again. The licensee is responsible for every drink that your establishment serves.
The Drivers License Guide Co. publishes an annual edition of the ID Checking Guide that helps retailers and law enforcement agencies identify fake IDs. Every valid driver's license format is shown in actual size and full color for all 50 states and 10 Canadian provinces. You can order the guide from their website or by calling (800) 227-8827. Virginia ABC is not affiliated with this product and does not endorse this product, but includes it for informational purposes only. It is up to you to verify the accuracy of any training materials used.
Revised June 8, 2022
Virginia ABC offers free online training to help managers, sellers and servers to become more responsible and better understand ABC laws, rules and regulations. For more information, contact Education and Prevention, (804) 977-7440 or email@example.com.