Bars could soon force everyone to show ID
MPs to debate teenage drinking bill today
By Raymond Hainey
A bid to crack down on under-age drinking will today be debated by MPs.
The amendment to the liquor licencing laws will make ID checks at the doors of bars and nightclubs mandatory — with criminal sanctions for licensees who fail to carry out checks.
National Security Minister Michael Dunkley said under-age drinking was “definitely” a problem — and said the new bill was the first salvo in a war on antisocial behaviour and drinking and driving.
He added: “It's been a concern for quite some time and there are a number of things that follow from that.
“We thought it would be better to have a firm, solid framework to allow these checks to take place.”
Mr Dunkley said the proposed changes were born out of meetings with the bar and restaurant trade, which took place last year.
He added: “It's about making their businesses better by making them safer and this is one of the steps which we have taken in this regard.”
The Liquor Licence Amendment Act 2014 sets out a legal definition of a minor — someone under 18 years old and requires some licensees to demand photographic ID from people they suspect to be under-age before they are served alcohol.
And all people going to bars and nightclubs — irrespective of how old they look — will have to provide the same type of ID before they can buy a drink.
The proposed law also requires places holding licences other than nightclub licences which open until 3am and have entertainment will have to ask for ID after 11pm if they suspect a customer is aged under 18.
And it will become an offence to fail to check the ID of a customer who appears to be a minor before selling them alcohol, while letting someone in to licenced premises without an ID check and using false or doctored ID will also become an offence.
Valid ID includes an up-to-date driver's licence, a current passport or other valid Government-issued identification.
Mr Dunkley said: “We tried to strike a balance in that, if you take a look at other jurisdictions, when I went into restaurants in Boston, I was always carded. It's mandatory.
“Bearing in mind Bermuda is a tourist destination, there had to be some balance, which is why we put in the part about nightclubs because there has to be a higher level of security.”
He added: “We have tried to hit a happy medium — when we are dealing with underage drinking and antisocial behaviour it's difficult to get that balance right, but with the consultation we've had with the industry, we believe we have struck it pretty well.”
Mr Dunkley said it was also planned to introduce standard training for security staff in licenced premises and a policy of blanket bans from some licenced premises for antisocial behaviour.
It also planned to toughen up enforcement of existing laws and ensure more sharing of information between different licenced premises in conjunction with police.
Mr Dunkley added that, since the start of major gun violence in Bermuda several years ago, there had been 24 fatal shootings, but three times that number of deaths on the roads, with many alcohol-related.
And he said: “That is unacceptable and, working with the Minister of Transport Shawn Crockwell, we will also take steps to deal with drinking and driving.”