Confiscating Driver’s Licenses and Fake IDs

A county legislator in New York State is asking the state Legislature to enable alcohol beverage retailers to confiscate the licenses and fake ID’s used by underage persons who attempt to buy alcohol illegally and to call the police. Retailers often routinely confiscate fake ID’s but cannot legally confiscate legitimate driver’s licenses.

Many underage persons select busy sales times and hope that rushed clerks won’t do the math, or will make a mistake doing the math, on their legitimate driver’s licenses. If unsuccessful, they simply go from store to store until they are able to make a purchase. Some sting operations suggest that underage purchasers may have to go to a dozen or more vendors before being successful. However, there’s no penalty to underage purchasers for employing this successful strategy. On the other hand, vendors face serious consequences for violating Alcohol Beverage Control law and criminal penal law and can lose their jobs (if a clerks) or businesses (if owners).

Under legislator Tom Hays’ proposal, the penalty for a minor who tries to buy alcohol would be no less than the minimum penalty for a seller. Sheriff Donald Smith notes that teens value their driver’s licenses, so taking them should be an effective strategy.

The proposed legislation would permit people who sell alcoholic beverages to confiscate any written evidence of age used to buy alcohol that appears to be fraudulent. The seller would give a photocopy of the ID back to the minor and then turn over the actual ID to law enforcement. Police would return the ID to the attempted buyer if they determined that no laws were violated.

In related news, a court in Indiana has recently ruled that a bar can sue underage purchasers for damages caused by their purchases. It wrote that underage persons who make an alcoholic beverage purchase are breaking the law and should be held accountable for their illegal actions and the damages they cause. See Bar Can Sue Underage Drinkers.


  • Matthews, Cara. Bill might curb underage drinking. The Journal News, July 5, 2004.