Two adults and one child died, and another child was seriously injured in a car crash in North Carolina in July, 2015. The fiery collision was preventable. A 20-year-old college student got drunk, drove north in the southbound lanes of the freeway and rammed the other car.

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He had borrowed a fraternity brother’s driver’s license because at 20, he was a year short of drinking age in the state. Bartenders at two local establishments accepted the ID.
The accident shows how a disturbingly common oversight in identification verification can have devastating impact.

Bartender Liability

At two different bars the student visited on the night of the accident, an employee checked and approved his ID at the door. Once inside both establishments, his ID was not checked again as he sat down and actually bought his drinks. This occurrence is a violation of North Carolina state law, which mandates checking ID at the point of sale to ensure that the drinker is old enough.

Fallout could hit the bartenders and servers, rather than the owners of the taverns or the doormen who checked the ID at the door. The server is the one who must show up in court and who is liable for damages. The bartender is also responsible for making sure his customer hasn’t had too much to drink.

Both bars received notices of violation from the state. For the bartenders, selling alcohol is an underage patron is a misdemeanor. Punishment is usually a fine and often community service.

All Too Common

Underage drinking is widespread in America. More than a third of all 15-year-olds report they have had at least one drink. Over one-fifth of people in the age bracket 12 to 20 reported drinking in the month prior to a survey in 2013.  It is a vulnerable age group. Almost 15% know about binge drinking first hand. About 4% drink heavily.

The results are predictable, but horrifying nonetheless. Every year, more than 4,000 young people under age 21 die in car crashes, alcohol poisoning, homicides and suicides, all traced back to drinking. Almost 200,000 ended up in the emergency room because they got injured while drinking. More assaults, both physical and sexual, happen when young people drink.

Unseen is the damage to brains that are still forming. Alcohol, especially getting drunk, affects how well this critical part of the body develops. Too much alcohol results in current and future brain problems.

The Right Way to Check ID

With statistics like that it is clear that checking a drinker’s ID isn’t going to solve the entire problem. But it’s a start. It is also essential for bars and servers who want to avoid legal problems.

The best way to spot a fake ID starts with knowing what a real one looks like. The security features on cards issued by the states vary considerably. This infographic on how to spot fake identification provides an excellent summary.

Many security features can easily be spotted if you know what to look for. Checking ranges from looking at the ID while holding it up to the light, looking for the correct images, or by feeling the card. Other features can only be spotted using UV light or magnification.

How to Spot a Fake ID[Infographic]
© 2014 Drivers License Guide Co.

With more common sense and training applied to protocols for checking IDs at establishments serving alcohol, perhaps tragedies like this recent one in North Carolina might be avoided in the future.

[Image Copyright: ingridhs / 123RF Stock Photo]

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