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Proposal would allow bars to sue fake-ID users

By Margo Spann, mspann@wisctv.com
Published On: May 02 2013 10:43:51 PM CDT
Updated On: May 02 2013 10:55:47 PM CDT

Channel3000.com

JANESVILLE, Wis. -

A new bill could help bar owners crack down on underage drinkers trying to use fake IDs.

The manager of Quotes in downtown Janesville, Elizabeth Carpenter, and her team are on the front lines of keeping alcohol out of the hands of people under 21.

"We do confiscate the IDs and bonus our bouncers for catching fake IDs," Carpenter said. The live DJs at Quotes on weekends tend to attract a younger crowd -- so the bar invested in ID scanners.

However, Carpenter said some of the fakes are sophisticated enough to slide past the technology.

"Unfortunately with fake id they are real so even when we scan them the IDs come up real so we still have to double check them," Carpenter said.

Sharen Hoskins, president of the Rock County Tavern League, said many folks under 21 are turning to the Internet to buy fake IDs. She said in the last three years the fakes have been getting tougher to spot.

With a possibility of a lawsuit looming bar owners anticipate they'll see fewer fakes if this becomes law.

"We're business owners, so we want to be responsible,” Hoskins said. “We don't want to serve underage people."

Bartenders and tavern owners face hundreds of dollars in fines, and the possibility of losing their liquor license if they are caught serving underage customers.

A new bill would allow them to sue people underage who are caught trying to use a fake ID. The individual could face a $1,000 lawsuit for their part in the crime. Hoskins said the majority of the league’s 74 members supported the measure.

"If [a person under 21 uses a fake ID to drink] and you get in trouble for serving them, there's a recourse where we can go back and say ‘Hey, some of this is your responsibility,’ ‘You're the one who ordered the fake ID online and came in and used it,’” Hoskins said.

For now, bartenders at Quotes will continue to double and even triple check IDs.
Carpenter said the proposal could be difficult to enforce but it's worth a try since the current system is frustrating.

“Something should happen. Right now we take their ID away, they go get a new one and try to come back again," Carpenter said.

Hoskins said college towns like Madison and La Crosse tend to see more fake IDs than Janesville does.

The bill unanimously passed an assembly committee on Tuesday. No word on when it will make its way to the Senate but it does need a hearing in the committee there first.

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