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July 31, 2008 8:03 PM   Subscribe

Will Florida bars accept my Massachusetts Liquor ID?

I'm going to Florida (Key West) to celebrate my friends 21st birthday. I know I should have a drivers license and a passport but right now that's not a possibility. Im having trouble finding out if Florida bars will accept my Mass Liquor ID. I found this page (warning PDF) and it says "Identification Card- issued by any state, and must include a photo" but this is from 2003 and I don't know if the laws have changed. So my question, will my Mass liquor ID work at Florida bars? Or can anybody find the laws for accepting IDs in Florida? Thanks for any help!
Disclaimer-I am of age, I am not looking to fake an ID or anything.
posted by lilkeith07 to Travel & Transportation around Florida (12 answers total)
Whatever the state law is about accepting ID from other places, it's pretty much up to the person checking IDs at the door to let you in or not.
posted by box at 8:18 PM on July 31, 2008

Laws don't matter all that much in this situation, though legally I expect you to be in the right.

The MA page doesn't entirely make it clear why there is a MA Liquor ID and a plain MA Non-driver ID, but both personal experience and hearsay indicate that DMV-issued non-driver IDs are generally accepted throughout the land. On the other hand, I've never imbibed in Florida, widely considered among the worst of the 50 states.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 8:47 PM on July 31, 2008

I've never heard of a liquor ID, but now I must have one!

Here in Illinois apparently police can seize your license when they stop you for speeding (or whatever) and until you go to traffic court to get your ID back you can use the copy of the ticket (no joke) to get in to bars.

Only some bartenders won't accept them. A buddy of mine was refused service at the Billy Goat on one (and we were subsequently thrown out when we snuck him a beer...)

I think the biggest problem you'd have is that bartenders in Key West won't be familiar with a "liquor id" and may think it's some sort of joke.

Is there not time to swing by the DMV and pick up a regular state ID? You should only need a a few pieces of ID to get one and it should only take a few minutes if the place isn't busy.
posted by wfrgms at 8:49 PM on July 31, 2008

The Florida Statutes can be found here, but finding the exact information you need seems to be non-trivial. That said, and having friends in the bar business from owners to dishwashers and further having traveled to the Keys on a regular basis, the answer is "it depends".

No matter what the law says, some bar owners will take a liberal interpretation of it, others will be more strict. A lot depends on the enforcement policies of the local law enforcement as well as the type of clientèle a given establishment has. Between Islamorada and Key West things tend to be more laid back, but as you get into the more touristy areas of Key West, they get a little more strict. But some of the biggest bars, in my experience, are not very strict at all because they are all about volume and are presumably well-connected politically. The bottom line is that you should have little if any trouble with a valid state-issued ID (after all, that is what it is for) but you may run across the occasional bouncer who doesn't like it. In that case, just go to the bar next door; there are plenty of places to drink in the Keys and not getting into one or two will not hamper your fun.
posted by TedW at 8:53 PM on July 31, 2008

Since the issue has come up, the reason why MA has separate liquor and state IDs is that the liquor ID is only proof of age whereas the state ID is proof of both age and residence. MA law is easier on those who sell to the underage if the person they're selling to presented a Massachusetts ID or a passport. So some places that sell liquor in MA require these forms of ID from buyers. However, the passport provision was only added relatively recently, and people from out of state (like college students, for example) needed a way to show ID; hence, liquor IDs.

Anyway, much to my surprise, it seems that Florida's law is like MA's in this respect. The people who wrote the statute were not very good at punctuation but "a comparable identification card issued by another state which indicates the person's age" does appear to apply only if the person is handicapped. Here is the relevant section:

A licensee who violates paragraph (a) shall have a complete defense to any civil action therefor, except for any administrative action by the division under the Beverage Law, if, at the time the alcoholic beverage was sold, given, served, or permitted to be served, the person falsely evidenced that he or she was of legal age to purchase or consume the alcoholic beverage and the appearance of the person was such that an ordinarily prudent person would believe him or her to be of legal age to purchase or consume the alcoholic beverage and if the licensee carefully checked one of the following forms of identification with respect to the person: a driver's license, an identification card issued under the provisions of s. 322.051 or, if the person is physically handicapped as defined in 2s. 553.45(1), a comparable identification card issued by another state which indicates the person's age, a passport, or a United States Uniformed Services identification card, and acted in good faith and in reliance upon the representation and appearance of the person in the belief that he or she was of legal age to purchase or consume the alcoholic beverage. Nothing herein shall negate any cause of action which arose prior to June 2, 1978.

posted by phoenixy at 9:21 PM on July 31, 2008

Er, to clarify--FL's law is not like MA's in that FL's does give safe harbor for out of state drivers licenses whereas MA's doesn't. But it is like MA's law in that it doesn't accept most other out of state forms of ID, God knows why. (The main thing I never understood, though, is why MA gives safe harbor for using a MA liquor ID or drivers license but not an MA state ID...)
posted by phoenixy at 9:33 PM on July 31, 2008

The only place that's ever rejected my NY State non-driver ID was a liquor store in Foxboro, Mass. Apparently I needed to prove I was getting behind the wheel before they'd sell me a sixpack. I think it's fascinating that Massachusetts has two different non-driver IDs but the guy didn't believe mine.

Seems to me if you take your MA liquor ID and whatever ID you had to produce to get it, you should be fine in Florida.
posted by bink at 9:50 PM on July 31, 2008

I have a MA liquor ID. I 've had no problems using it in South Carolina, Las Vegas, Washington D.C. or Ft. Lauderdale. It was viewed like a novelty, but accepted. You should be ok. Having a back up credit card or student ID should get you in for sure.
posted by ecks at 5:06 AM on August 1, 2008

I've had a MA Liquor ID and have used it to get on planes (U.S. domestic flights, that is) and buy booze in other states. I've noticed that a lot of the time people don't look closely at it, so may not even notice it is not a MA Driver's License. Only once has a door person stopped and asked me what it was, and even then they didn't act as if they weren't going to let me in. They were quite apologetic for not knowing. That was in Central Square in Cambridge, MA.
posted by galaksit at 7:03 AM on August 1, 2008

Florida bartenders in any touristy place (e.g. Key West) will have seen every form of ID under the sun. Some of those bartenders may well be from MA.

Still, that's no guarantee that they'll accept it. But good luck, and have fun.
posted by rtha at 7:05 AM on August 1, 2008

(The main thing I never understood, though, is why MA gives safe harbor for using a MA liquor ID or drivers license but not an MA state ID...)

I always assumed they just want to get more money out of you (the liquor ID costs more).
posted by dfan at 7:12 AM on August 1, 2008

Thanks guys, I guess the only place that doesn't take the Mass Liquor IDs are mostly Mass Bars.
posted by lilkeith07 at 9:13 AM on August 1, 2008

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