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Wait -- You're Carding Me?!


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According to Tim Carman, someone was unhappy with how the Mussel Bar staff handled a ID situation, and has started a smear campaign against it. They may have been old enough to drink, but certainly not mature enough to do so.

I don't think their business will be effected at all, if anything, Anna's complaints will serve as a warning to people who plan to go to the Mussel Bar to double check that they have their ID. My husband and I are both in our early 30s. He looks older than me and we rarely get carded in restaurants. Different restaurants differ on their policy, probably due to differences in location (near college campus or in an area with more incidents of people being busted for serving alcohol to minors, etc). On the other hand, I certainly don't expect getting admonished for taking sips of my husband's drink. It never happened to me before, but I suppose it is possible that some restaurants are more strict than others when it comes to alcohol policy.

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I always leave the house without my driver's license if I am not driving. The two times that I got carded was at Masa14 and Zentan. Maybe there is something about 14th St.

Waaay off topic, but I can think of 100 scenarios where I might need my ID when I don't expect to, but I can't think of one scenario where things would be better if I'd have left it at home.

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It never happened to me before, but I suppose it is possible that some restaurants are more strict than others when it comes to alcohol policy.

Restaurants can be steeply penalized for not properly checking for identification or folks drinking without ID. If this guy didn't have his ID, and they were caught it would have been very problematic. I wouldn't be surprised if there were more checks earlier in a restaurant's life cycle, as well as in certain areas, certain types of venues, and certain types of events. As much as I would love to sneak my 20 year old cousin in to bars, I wouldn't want to get the places I visit in trouble.

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Restaurants can be steeply penalized for not properly checking for identification or folks drinking without ID.

The Maryland regulations do not actually require that a patron carry an ID in order to consume alcohol. It merely provides that restaurants assure themselves that a patron is at least 21 years of age.

(a) A licensee, his or her agent(s) and/or employee(s) must not sell or

serve any alcoholic beverage to anyone under the age of 21. A licensee, his or her

agent(s) and/or employee(s) must not permit anyone under the age of 21 to

consume or possess any alcoholic beverage on the licensed premises. The

licensee, his or her agent(s) and/or employee(s), must determine that the person to

whom the sale or service is made, or who is consuming or possessing an alcoholic

beverage on the licensed premises, is at least twenty-one (21) years of age prior to

the sale, service, possession, or consumption of any alcoholic beverage. The

licensee is responsible for any violation of this section.

In DC, restaurants can be penalized for selling alcohol to someone under 21 years of age. Restaurants can be penalized for selling an alcoholic beverage to any person who, upon request of the restaurant, fails to produce a valid identification document. I do not believe, however, there is any DC law specifying to whom resturants must direct their requests for identification. You do not need an ID to drink. You just need to be 21 years old and look old enough not to get asked for an ID.

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Restaurants can be steeply penalized for not properly checking for identification or folks drinking without ID.

Not only that, but a lot of restaurants will pass the fine on to the manager or even the server and make them pay it out of pocket. It's not (necessarily) a case of a server/doorman/manager being a jerk so much as it's them in a CYA position of their own.

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One must remember that alcohol service in a public place is a privilege, not a right, and that the restaurant's liability and responsibility are quite serious and extend far, far beyond the age of the patron being served (or not). It is not a question of whether a restaurant is "strict" or not, it is a question of whether or not a restaurant takes this responsibility to public safety seriously or not.

By law, the bartender or server is held directly and personally responsible for any infraction (outside of any repercussions faced by the restaurant) and personally faces steep fines, immediate incarceration, the loss of professional certification (and therefore his career) and the possibility of civil actions.

No one is ever "owed" a drink or the right to drink from another's drink, and the behavior at the heart of this discussion would be grounds for immediate removal from the premises in many bars and restaurants, and rightfully so.

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I have had to ask a party to leave when they repeatedly gave sips of wine to their underaged child. We never serve anyone if we ask for ID and they do not provide it. The customers were wrong and their reaction is simply that of self entittlement gone wild.

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I personally know of a bartender who got "stung" in DC - a young couple walked into a busy bar, and ordered two drinks. My friend was rushed, said these two looked like they were in their late 20s, and (perfectly understandably) erred on the side of hospitality rather than discrimination. Bottom line: a day spent plea-bargaining, followed by an entire Saturday emptying trash cans in Chinatown wearing a criminal's vest.

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Correct me if I am wrong, but aren't some states require restaurants to card everyone regardless of age? In that case, it takes the guessworks from the restaurant staff, but in most cases, it is still at the restaurant's discretion who to card and who not to card, and some restaurants err on the side of caution since loosing their liquor license can be devastating to the business. When I was working in a restaurant during my undergrad years, the policy was to card anyone who can possibly look like they are under the age of 35. Who look like they are under 35? This can become very subjective, thus giving patrons the idea that some place are more "strict" than others.

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From the article - "I am also a writer so you can bet this is what’s on my mind and where my writing energies will go."

Seriously, this person is a writer!? She is as much a writer as I am an astronaut.

I take great issue with people who get their panties, or boxers, in a bunch about something so trivial. And, I get quite upset when people blow things completely out of proportion. On top of that, I get livid when people think that just because they have access to the internet that they are able to spew their misplaced hatred to the far reaches of our solar system.

Listen, there are two sides to every story, but I have a lot of doubt that Chef Wiedmaier was screaming at some lady because she was breaking the law. If he was, shame on him, but even if he was, shame on her for being such a bitch about it and sucking as a writer.

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From the article - "I am also a writer so you can bet this is what’s on my mind and where my writing energies will go."

Seriously, this person is a writer!? She is as much a writer as I am an astronaut.

I take great issue with people who get their panties, or boxers, in a bunch about something so trivial. And, I get quite upset when people blow things completely out of proportion. On top of that, I get livid when people think that just because they have access to the internet that they are able to spew their misplaced hatred to the far reaches of our solar system.

Listen, there are two sides to every story, but I have a lot of doubt that Chef Wiedmaier was screaming at some lady because she was breaking the law. If he was, shame on him, but even if he was, shame on her for being such a bitch about it and sucking as a writer.

If there are two sides to every story, as you say, why is it not possible that the owner was extremely unpleasant to these people? As has been mentioned, it is not against the law to drink if you are over 21, but it is against this restaurant's policy if you fail to show ID. So instead of possibly going nuts, how about removing the drink the first time it happened, and saying, "I'm sorry. We don't allow customers who have not shown ID to drink. I am afraid we are going to have to ask you to leave." Why did the owner get involved? It seems rather over-the-top to me. Also rather odd that this became a Carman column filled with 'chef' quotes. I'm wondering if things might have been different if he also contacted the customer.

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i know they do excellent sting operations in d.c. our son wasn't arrested when he fell for one of them, but he was suspended, so shortly thereafter left for blue smoke. and i don't recall the exact circumstances, but at the time i thought the deception sounded unfair.

many many moons ago, during my short time working in a restaurant, a waitress told one of her customers that she was not allowed to give wine to her teenage daughter, which she had been pouring in small amounts into her water glass. the mother ignored the server, who kept watching and the next time the wine was poured she rushed over and filled the water glass with water to overflowing. that ended the problem.

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The most common sting in DC is for a LEGAL patron to order two drinks. The bartender gives the two drinks, and the legal patron hands it over to an underage person accompanying them. Voila - the bartender is busted, even though they never served the underage patron. A seemingly innocuous order "Give me a two Buds" could end up putting the bartender in jail - you are not allowed to serve two drinks to one person at the same time.

Since clubs card everyone at the door, this sting doesn't affect them. But when you are a bartender at say, Churchkey, and patrons are three deep, and someone orders 2 pints (which has to happen dozens of times each night), this little DC-ABRA scam works quite easily.

I have worked in the hospitality industry in half a dozen cities, and DC's enforcement policy is the most predatory, by a long shot. You want to know why you're getting carded in busy restaurants in the hottest parts of town (Capitol Hill, 14th Street)? Because the ABC board sharks are circling the area.

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The most common sting in DC is for a LEGAL patron to order two drinks. The bartender gives the two drinks, and the legal patron hands it over to an underage person accompanying them. Voila - the bartender is busted, even though they never served the underage patron. A seemingly innocuous order "Give me a two Buds" could end up putting the bartender in jail - you are not allowed to serve two drinks to one person at the same time.

Since clubs card everyone at the door, this sting doesn't affect them. But when you are a bartender at say, Churchkey, and patrons are three deep, and someone orders 2 pints (which has to happen dozens of times each night), this little DC-ABRA scam works quite easily.

I have worked in the hospitality industry in half a dozen cities, and DC's enforcement policy is the most predatory, by a long shot. You want to know why you're getting carded in busy restaurants in the hottest parts of town (Capitol Hill, 14th Street)? Because the ABC board sharks are circling the area.

This was not a crowded bar, though. And a simple "I need to see everyone's ID" solves that "scam". It is an important part of the bartender's job to make sure they are not serving minors. I wouldn't call DC's enforcement predatory, because, in fact, there is very little enforcement at all. But this has nothing to do with a person of legal age drinking alcohol, which is what happened here. Quite different, and we still don't have the full story, either, which was my point.

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OK. The incident to which you refer was in MD, not DC. I was commenting on DC's enforcement, which IMHO is predatory. If you are a large restaurant business, busy, crowded, happening, you can bet the mortgage that undercover DC ABRA officers will be in your establishment. ABRA goes where the crowds and money are, not necessarily to where the willful dissemination of alcohol to underage patrons occurs with regularity.

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OK. The incident to which you refer was in MD, not DC. I was commenting on DC's enforcement, which IMHO is predatory. If you are a large restaurant business, busy, crowded, happening, you can bet the mortgage that undercover DC ABRA officers will be in your establishment. ABRA goes where the crowds and money are, not necessarily to where the willful dissemination of alcohol to underage patrons occurs with regularity.

I'm not sure where you get your information, but as a former ANC Commissioner and Chair of the ABC Committee for Adams Morgan, I can tell you that the idea that DC enforcement is predatory is not only unfounded but laughable (because there is hardly any). In any event, it is always the server's/bartender's responsibility to get ID. Being busy is not an excuse. But the idea that people are being 'tricked' into serving minors is obscuring the nature of undercover operations. Should undercover narcotics detectives making a buy show up looking like a cop? Of course not. Should they go stand on a corner where no one is selling drugs and wait for someone to show up? That wouldn't be smart police work, would it? So naturally they are going to go where they are most likely to have success-crowded, popular places, especially those that don't card everyone at the door. Although I can tell you that these 'stings' are an extremely low police priority, in my experience (in DC).

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I'm not sure where you get your information, but as a former ANC Commissioner and Chair of the ABC Committee for Adams Morgan, I can tell you that the idea that DC enforcement is predatory is not only unfounded but laughable (because there is hardly any). In any event, it is always the server's/bartender's responsibility to get ID. Being busy is not an excuse. But the idea that people are being 'tricked' into serving minors is obscuring the nature of undercover operations. Should undercover narcotics detectives making a buy show up looking like a cop? Of course not. Should they go stand on a corner where no one is selling drugs and wait for someone to show up? That wouldn't be smart police work, would it? So naturally they are going to go where they are most likely to have success-crowded, popular places, especially those that don't card everyone at the door. Although I can tell you that these 'stings' are an extremely low police priority, in my experience (in DC).

i have seen a number of prominent restaurants have their liquor licenses suspended, whether it is a priority for the police or not.

as for narcotics, as the unfortunate member of a jury a number of times, d.c. seems to give a high priority to prosecuting drug users for small amounts. The last case i was on it turned out to be $18 worth, a pebble of crack. the priority seems to be to go to parts of the city that are black and poor rather than white and affluent. of course, this is not from the perspective of an anc commissioner.

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i know they do excellent sting operations in d.c. our son wasn't arrested when he fell for one of them, but he was suspended, so shortly thereafter left for blue smoke. and i don't recall the exact circumstances, but at the time i thought the deception sounded unfair.

I was commenting on DC's enforcement, which IMHO is predatory.

I agree with both of you. DC's sting operations are the equivalent of putting a radar trap in a place where a driver is most likely to mindlessly speed, e.g., a long, downhill straightaway without any houses around it; as opposed to where someone is most likely to get injured, e.g., a busy intersection or a neighborhood. It's predatory.

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I don't see the analogy between the bartender and drug dealer. A drug dealer is a criminal. The drug purchaser is a criminal. A bartender is performing a legal service, within legal guidelines. A vast majority of these transactions are perfectly legal. The bartender is not soliciting underage drinkers-they are coming to him. The purchaser is the one with criminal intent, not the server.

By using sting operations (not "scams" - sorry), the ABRA and others are trying to trick bartenders into breaking the law. I have never met a bartender or liquor/wine store clerk that went to work with the intent of serving minors. But I do know bartenders and liquor/wine store employees who have been fined and threatened with incarceration because they got tricked. The punishment seems to far outweigh the crime. Again, just my opinion.

And regarding the enforcement and my opinion that it is predatory- well, that's just my opinion. Your contention that there is virtually no enforcement is probably valid. And could it be that my opinion is reinforced by that? The lack of consistent enforcement makes these "sting" operations appear highly subjective and predatory. The object of the ABRA actions seems to me to be less about stopping underage drinking than it is about shooting fish in a barrel for profit.

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I don't see the analogy between the bartender and drug dealer. A drug dealer is a criminal. The drug purchaser is a criminal. A bartender is performing a legal service, within legal guidelines. A vast majority of these transactions are perfectly legal. The bartender is not soliciting underage drinkers-they are coming to him. The purchaser is the one with criminal intent, not the server.

By using sting operations (not "scams" - sorry), the ABRA and others are trying to trick bartenders into breaking the law. I have never met a bartender or liquor/wine store clerk that went to work with the intent of serving minors. But I do know bartenders and liquor/wine store employees who have been fined and threatened with incarceration because they got tricked. The punishment seems to far outweigh the crime. Again, just my opinion.

And regarding the enforcement and my opinion that it is predatory- well, that's just my opinion. Your contention that there is virtually no enforcement is probably valid. And could it be that my opinion is reinforced by that? The lack of consistent enforcement makes these "sting" operations appear highly subjective and predatory. The object of the ABRA actions seems to me to be less about stopping underage drinking than it is about shooting fish in a barrel for profit.

I wasn't analogizing bartenders and drug dealers. I was pointing out the relative efficacy of police operations. But a major part of a bartender's job is to ensure underage drinking does not occur on their premises. The idea that they are being tricked somehow is certainly not beyond possibility, but there are so few suspensions that I would hardly call enforcement predatory. I was present when a restaurant's bartender was 'stung', and believe me, the individual in question did not look under 21. However, a simple, "ID please" ends any 'scam' right there. How is it predatory to ask someone to obey the law? And as someone previously posted, an alcohol license is a privilege, not a right, and it comes with several very important responsibilities. Not serving underage patrons is number one.

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I wasn't analogizing bartenders and drug dealers. I was pointing out the relative efficacy of police operations. But a major part of a bartender's job is to ensure underage drinking does not occur on their premises. The idea that they are being tricked somehow is certainly not beyond possibility, but there are so few suspensions that I would hardly call enforcement predatory. I was present when a restaurant's bartender was 'stung', and believe me, the individual in question did not look under 21. However, a simple, "ID please" ends any 'scam' right there. How is it predatory to ask someone to obey the law? And as someone previously posted, an alcohol license is a privilege, not a right, and it comes with several very important responsibilities. Not serving underage patrons is number one.

On a lighter note, incredulously, it looks like the DC liquor board will probably oversee medical marijuana as well. According to Wayne Turner, who co-wrote the initiative, "Dispensaries are the front line, and the liquor board is completely inappropriate to run this program," he said. "Are we talking about medical marijuana Jell-O shots here?"

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