New Bill Proposal May Make It Easier for Restaurants and Liquor Stores to Accept Out-of-State ID’s

Law Offices of John P. Connell, P.C. Currently in Massachusetts, restaurants and liquor stores are losing out on potential sales from tourists and other out-of-state visitors as a result of the stringent restrictions for accepting out-of-state licenses to prove a potential customer is twenty-one years or older.

Pursuant to Section 34B of Chapter 138, a licensed retailer may only “reasonably rely” upon a (1) customer’s Massachusetts driver’s license; (2) liquor purchase identification card issued by the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles; (3) Military ID; or (4) Passport. Should a retailer accept an out-of-state ID, such as a California Driver’s License, it does so at its own risk should it be determined that the person sold an alcoholic beverage was in fact a minor. For this reason, many Massachusetts liquor stores and restaurants do not accept out-of-state ID’s and lose potential business in order to avoid the risk of not having a potential defense to assert should the police or regulators find a minor used a fake ID or an ID that was not in fact his or hers.

This also causes a problem for out-of-state consumers including tourists and students who are twenty-one years old or older but who simply do not have a Massachusetts ID. By not having a Massachusetts ID, even customers that provide multiple forms of ID are denied service by many Massachusetts retailers who have learned through past experiences that an almost automatic suspension of their liquor license is not worth the risk of accepting an out-of-state ID.

Thankfully, however, a new bill proposal may provide some relief. A bill is pending in the Massachusetts House of Representatives that would amend Chapter 138 and extend the “reasonable reliance” defense currently available to retailers who rely on Massachusetts’ ID’s to out-of-state ID’s. (Bill H. 3385)

Similar attempts to revise this law over the past ten years have been defeated but with added sponsors this year, the Bill appears to finally have a chance of removing this idiosyncrasy from Chapter 138 for good.

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Contributed by Mandy Driscoll

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