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Vertical ID’s now acceptable to buy alcohol in AZ

Vertical+IDs+are+now+accepted+as+forms+of+identification+to+purchase+alcohol+for+people+21+years+and+older.
Tom Price
Vertical IDs are now accepted as forms of identification to purchase alcohol for people 21 years and older.

The orientation of your ID will no longer determine whether you can buy alcohol in Arizona, depending on when the ID expires.

Gov. Doug Ducey signed House Bill 2031 into law earlier this month. The bill allows anyone who is 21 with a valid ID to purchase alcohol, no matter the orientation of the identification.

Previously in Arizona, a vertical ID would not be accepted by any bartender, server or cashier, even if the purchaser was 21 or older. The Arizona government introduced this statute when it decided to make its IDs for those under 21 vertical rather than horizontal to be more easily identifiable.

Related: Arizona releases new ID, again, compliant with federal standards.

A vertical Arizona ID expires 30 days after the holder turns 21. However, many other states keep their vertical IDs valid for a few more years, so the laws across states did not align. As a result, people over 21 from out of state with valid vertical IDs could not use them in Arizona.

The newly signed bill was introduced by Arizona House Rep. Sonny Borrelli, who became aware of the issue when he witnessed a retired Marine get denied being served alcohol at a restaurant because of his ID orientation, even though he was of age and the ID was valid.

“The issue was that it was actually bad for business, and you’re punishing somebody for having the wrong shaped ID card,” Borelli said. “It made no sense.”

According to the Arizona State Legislature website, the law “modifies the list of acceptable identification required for the sale of alcohol by removing the requirement for out-of-state driver and nonoperating licenses to be reissued after a person turns 21 years of age.”

Borrelli said one of the main reasons for implementing this law was the consideration of the Arizona economy. As a popular tourist destination because of weather and sporting events, Arizona can draw in young crowds from out of state. Borrelli said businesses suffered under the old law as a result.

“This affected business: restaurants, bars even retail stores,” he said “That’s No. 1 — literally discriminating against somebody because of the shape of their driver’s license or ID card.”

The bill included an emergency clause, which means it would become effective as soon as the governor signed it, Borrelli said. Up until the bill became a law, bartenders, servers and cashiers could be charged $1,000 for selling alcohol to someone with a vertical ID, even if that person was 21 or over and the ID was still valid.

Borrelli said he hopes that the law will not only help business, but protect those trying to make a living within those businesses.

The new law is convenient for those from out of state living in Arizona. Emily Silverman, a Judaic studies junior at the UA, turned 21 in January. On her first night out at the bars, she had to bring her passport with her so she could be served alcohol. The next day, she flew home to Colorado to get a horizontal ID that would be valid in Arizona.

“I think it’ll be good for future generations,” she said. “I think it would’ve saved me a lot of money and time, but I like having the physical horizontal ID better.”

While everyone who turns 21 will have to switch to a horizontal ID at some point in their lives — some earlier than later — now everyone of age in Arizona can purchase alcohol without fear of their ID being the wrong orientation.


Follow Leah Merrall on Twitter.


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