Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Anchorage Assembly Requires ID Checks Before Alcohol Sale
ID checks will be mandatory starting July 1 for all liquor sales in Anchorage
ANCHORAGE—To check or not to check is no longer a question.
The debate over whether to require identification before selling alcohol to anyone in Anchorage ended Tuesday night as the Assembly voted, almost unanimously, to make ID checks mandatory, effective July 1.
But the public weighed in, a final time, before the final vote.
Most bar and liquor store owners say making ID checks mandatory are a hassle, but backers of the requirement say it's about putting safety first.
“I am very much in favor of checking for IDs,” said Barbara Pepeck of North Star Community Council before the Assembly. “I do not consider it onerous at all and I do drink.”
Most Assembly members agree.
“It simply adds one more layer of protection for the public's safety,” said Assembly member Paul Honeman. “I make no apologies for trying to look out for the majority of us at risk by the minority we know to exist.”
In that “minority” are those with red bars on their state identification cards—the mark that signifies the holder is court-ordered not to drink.
But that red stripe is hardly a deterrent, one restaurant owner testified to the Assembly about a friend.
“When she goes out to the bars, she uses her passport,” said Robert Woolsey, general manager of Tap Root Restaurant. “Just to let you guys know, there are tons of ways around it and it's more than anything, an inconvenience for a bar and restaurant to deal with.”
Talbot Chang, who owns Wine House on Jewel Lake, said the requirement is “impractical.”
“My personal belief is that you can't force a person to stop drinking if they do want to drink,” Chang said. “They will always find a way to get hold of alcohol.”
Silvia Villamides, executive director of Anchorage Cabaret, Hotel, Restaurant and Retailers, said the requirement would punish the majority for the sins of a minority.
“There are 486 red-striped driver's licenses in Anchorage,” Villamides testified at Tuesday night’s Assembly meeting. “According to the 2010 Census, there's approximately 308,000 people in Anchorage. The individuals with red stripe licenses are two-tenths of one percent of our city's population. There are less than 300 chronic inebriates in our community, about one-tenth of one percent of our population.”
In the end, though, the Assembly voted, 10 to 1, to make ID checks mandatory, with Assembly member Bill Starr dissenting.