Dew Drop Inn Responds to New Sign: “Our policy is not to “ban” 21-23 year olds, but to be extra vigilant regarding their ID’s.”

Dew Drop Inn

From Dew Drop Inn:

“To Whom it may concern and those who would like clarification on our new sign:

For 21-23 year olds, the Dew Drop Inn has to be extra vigilant, because 21-23 yr olds are more likely to show up at the bar knowing that someone in their group has a fake ID. Our policy is not to “ban” 21-23 year olds, but to be extra vigilant regarding their ID’s.

This is a bigger issue for alcohol establishments in college neighborhoods, because only about 25% of “college students” are of the legal drinking age (the Senior class); so most undergraduates are not old enough to be in bars. For this reason, being a “college bar” is not a working business model, even near college campuses.

And with high-quality printers and graphics, there is currently no fool-proof way of determining whether ID’s are fake or legitimate. ABRA (DC’s alcohol regulating agency) acknowledges that there are no scanners on the market that can 100% detect fake ID’s. Instead, security staff is supposed to be able to identify fake ID’s by knowing more than 50 state’s ever-updated ID’s, plus the US territories’, as well as foreign passports.

To further complicate the issue, when there is a breach, the Bar is penalized, not the adult with the fake ID (assuming that the person is over 18 yrs old). If an under-aged patron is found inside the bar with a high quality fake ID, then often both the Bar and the bartender are fined, while the under-aged adult with the fake ID is often simply escorted out of the establishment and sent on their way. So naturally this adds to the allure of using a fake ID – the worst that is likely to happen is that your ID gets confiscated.

So, being in a college neighborhood, Dew Drop Inn’s sign “welcoming” 24 yr olds, is our way of saying that we will be scrutinizing all of our younger patron’s ID’s very closely, and that we hope to err on the side of caution.”

89 Comment

  • See folks, you can put away your pitchforks. End of the day – THEIR ass is on the line. I’d much rather support a bar that cares about the law, than one who just watches their bottom line.

    • There is basically nothing that they’re saying here that’s captured by the words on the sign. If they’re upset about how ABRA levies fines, even while acknowledging how difficult it is for an establishment to adjudicate IDs, then their beef is with ABRA, not people under 24. Given the mistrust of IDs inherent in this policy, determining a person’s age is basically impossible anyway. So it might be significantly more accurate to say “we scrutinize IDs very carefully” which I can promise wouldn’t have drawn ire.

      • And presumably these laws and regulations are the same for every establishment – but they were the only ones who felt compelled to make a strangely worded sign.

        • General Grant Circle

          Because they 1) recently opened and 2) are located in a college town….pretty obvious

  • This is a very nuanced policy that doesn’t translate to the current sign, or any sign for that matter. So I feel like there will just be more confusion, whether or not people get this memo. Also, are ID scanners really that bad that they’re not even worth trying?

    • I was there last week and they used one. Point is they are not foolproof.

    • The issue with ID scanners is not with the scanner or fakes, it is that currently in this country there is an issue with actual real IDs being made on stolen DMV equipment with fake information. So again you could get an actual real ID printed with false info… AKA impossible to determine authenticity.

      • If that is a pervasive problem, that goes so so so far beyond college kids at a random bar in Brookland. ABRA should not be fining people for not spotting a legitimate ID with false information printed on a stolen DMV printer; there is NO way around that. Is the bar supposed to DNA-test the patron are test it against some (non-existent) DNA database to verify their identity? Of course not.
        Citing what (may, if true) be a serious concern about the usefulness of state-issued IDs overal as a reason for imposing age restrictions at a random bar, in contrast to the law of the jurisdiction therein, is a little absurd.

  • Good for them for pointing out the discrepancy in the law and enforcement on ABRA’s part. It’s unfair that the bartender and bar pay a heafty fine while the underage kid walks away with no punishment, especially in an establishment where IDs are required.

    • Does DC not have a “frequency” law? Possession of alcohol by a minor? I’ve lived in many places where the underage patron is punished/fined, and find it odd that they wouldn’t here.

      • ah

        Also, isn’t possession/use of fake ID unlawful?

        This sounds more like the police don’t bother except to notify ABRA.

        • Yes, it is unlawful. Although it happened to me in a different state, I was actually dumb enough to use a fake ID and I did get caught. Some of my friends were kicked out, but I was the unlucky one who got a ticket for it. I had to get a lawyer to represent me in court for my charge – which was something like ‘intent to purchase malt liquor under the age of 21’ which is worse than simply being intoxicated underage. I’m sure there are many lawyers out there who could clarify (and my court documents), but I’m basing it off of my memory here. So no – the underage kid does NOT simply walk away without punishment.

  • Dew Drop is a great bar, and they should be protecting themselves.

  • Yeah, that’s not what the sign says. College kids – make sure your fakes say that you’re at least 24 years old!

    • Exactly, how is the concern about fakes resolved by raising the age of entry? If they do allow 23 year olds in with legit IDs, why doesn’t the sign just address the fake ID issue? Sounds like spin. Are fakes really THAT good? Do most home printers print holograms?

      • Because if you raise the age of entry, you exclude the whole college crowd. 20-year olds get fake ids to hang out with their 21- and 22-year-old friends. If they can exclude all of them, they get rid of the problem.

        • Right, except Dew Drop’s response says they’re not excluding the 21 and 22 year olds – they’re just looking at their IDs more carefully. So the under-21 crowd just need fakes that say they’re at least 24, and then they can hang out with their 21 and 22 year old friends at Dew Drop.

          • Right, they’re warning them they will receive extra scrutiny. Basically it’s a way for the bouncer to get rid of a whole party at the door if something seems off. Instead of having to engage a whole argument, they can just point to the sign.

      • My husband is a bartender (before i had my kids i was too). Fakes are that good. Gone are the days were you can chalk an ID and hope for a lazy bouncer. New fakes are almost impossible to tell from the real thing.

        People are getting bent out of shape over what is obviously a tongue in cheek sign at a bar. No one would read a sign that expressly explained the issue at hand. Everyone, thanks to PoPville and internet rage, is reading this cutsie sign. This is someones job on the line. I’ve seen bartenders walked out of bars in cuffs because they got busted during a sting for serving someone with a fake.

        • Sounds like the solution to that problem is changing the way ABRA enforces the law, not one law executing some kind of vigilante initiative with a sign that has nothing to do with a policy and a policy that basically drills down to “we are definitely going to do our jobs while resenting having to do it in public.”

      • YES fakes are that good, In fact for the right price you can purchase IDs printed on stolen DMV printers so the ID is actually real and passes all the test, but its fake information.

  • Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t using false identification a federal offense? Interesting how someone who uses a fake ID is simply escorted out of the establishment, that is to say if the police are involved.

    • Accountering

      I think theoretically it could be a federal crime, but it depends on magnitude of course. They definitely aren’t charging some 19 year old who buys three beers with a fake ID with a federal crime, nor should they.

    • I think there are bigger fish to fry in DC. I went to school in a college town and plenty of friends were busted for fakes. It was by VA ABC officers though. They were notorious for doing “stings” in bar lines. I have a few friends who had to go to VASAP, pay fines, etc.

    • I think there’s a common sense distinction between using a fake to buy a beer or try to board an airplane that’s at play here. Otherwise thousands of people would go to jail every year for something silly that doesn’t hurt anyone. And those cells are already reserved for weed dealers.

    • I had friends get arrested in DC when I was a student for using a fake. You don’t just get away with it.

      • I assume the unreasonableness of ABRA is being embellished all-around here.

        • Why is that the natural assumption based on 1 person who had friends get arrested? Were they habitual offenders, how long ago was this, lots of questions to ask. Abra is absolutely as unreasonable as suggested.

      • If the police show up, they get arrested. If it is ABRA (which is what Dew Drop is referring to), only the bar/bartender is punished.

        • Couldn’t they call the cops themselves when ABRA showed up, to discourage the people using fakes and costing them money?

          • Yes, I’m sure the underage offender will be glad to stick around and wait for the cops to come arrest them.

      • +1 Post 9/11 fake IDs became a much more serious concern. I have friends that have been arrested as well. Meanwhile when my sister was in high school (1998 graduate) you couldn’t throw a rock down a street in Adams Morgan without hitting someone offering a fake ID

  • Pity the poor doorman who has to know what the 50 state IDs look like.

    There’s certainly no BOOK that all bars should have that shows all these IDs in it with details about what features to look out for.

    Any properly trained door person knows their IDs and carries that book. A bar worried about fakes should buy a scanner (which does work let’s say what 95% of the time?). In case of suspicion, you ask for backup docs. Ask for the person’s entire wallet if you need to. If you’re not 100% satisfied, turn the person away.

    You don’t use snarky signs. I like this bar, but come on. I was once a responsible 21-23 year old who liked a drink at a bar once in a while.

    • Yeah, I use my DC license in Toronto when I’m carded. Sometimes they whip out that book and it has all 50 states (plus DC!!) in it. It even shows the old DC DL.

    • Seriously? One, you’re not correct about scanners. Not only are they not necessarily accurate, they’re also very expensive. And when they make an error (whether it’s a real ID or a quality fake), the establishment is still financially liable for serving underage. That’s a $10,000 fine, plus a fine for the employee who served.

      So no, this place has all rights to post a sign/ban under a certain age. They’re protecting themselves from huge financial risk.

      • They (probably) don’t have that right under the DC Human Rights Act. The same entity (the DC government) is imposing both the hefty penalty and the rule that you can’t use blanket bans to address it. I believe advocating against the fines is a far better course of action than advocating in favor of the ban.

        • No, the fines are there for a reason – it’s clear why an establishment has to be penalized for serving underage.

          And despite your “solid” understanding of the Dc Human Rights Act, this is a business working to defend themselves against potential illegal transactions – thus a viable reason to limit service to a particular group.

          • Morally, I completely disagree that denying service to a group is an okay thing to do, though I’ll concede that young 20-somethings are not a persecuted group and so it’s not the worst application of your (exact) argument.
            Legally, you are probably wrong. Please note below, specifically “a “business necessity” exception cannot be justified by the facts of increased cost to business, business efficiency, the comparative characteristics of one group as opposed to another, the stereotyped characterization of one group as opposed to another, and the preferences of co-workers, employers, customers or any other person.””
            § 2-1401.03. Exceptions. (a) Any practice which has a discriminatory effect and which would otherwise be
            prohibited by this chapter shall not be deemed unlawful if it can be established that such practice is not intentionally devised or operated to contravene the prohibitions of this chapter and can be justified by business necessity. Under this chapter, a “business necessity” exception is applicable only in each individual case where it can be proved by a respondent that, without such exception, such business cannot be
            conducted; a “business necessity” exception cannot be justified by the facts of increased cost to business, business efficiency, the comparative characteristics of one group as opposed to another, the stereotyped
            characterization of one group as opposed to another, and the preferences of co-workers, employers, customers or any other person.

          • 21-23 is not a group in the sense of discrimination.

            Clearly you didn’t understand either my comment or the Exceptions you posted. I’m not just claiming that serving underage people is an expense, it’s also illegal, and thus “such business cannot be conducted.” Therefore, this could be considered a business necessity, as this has been a problem at this bar.

          • @Billy: “…serving underage people is an expense, it’s also illegal…”

            But serving 21-23 year-olds is not.

          • Sigh. Restricting those under 21 has a legitimate business reason. Restricting those under 25? Maaaaaybe, but there’s certainly no legal precedent.

            Also, 21-23 absolutely is a group in the sense of age discrimination based on the oft-cited DC Human Rights Act.

      • Instead of a broad policy (suggesting) not admitting 21-23 year olds, just disallow anyone with a suspect ID. Financial risk avoided.

        Heck, if the bouncers even adopted the policy of finding every ID 21-23 to be “suspect,” it would take a lot longer to escalate to this level of awareness.

  • As another bar owner in DC we recommend going to the ABRA Fake ID License Course. It’s free and my entire staff went a few weeks ago. Was really valuable information and they give you a booklet on all the most current ID’s in 2016. Bottom line as DDI said unfortunately the only “victims” in this crime are usually the Bar or the Bartender or the Manager on Duty – not the person committing the crime. We can be fined, shut down, and really negatively impacted by even one underage drinker. Let alone what the underage drinker can do once they leave your bar. It’s not worth it to chance it.

  • Allison

    I don’t think anyone would reasonably read the sign to mean that.

    • Agreed. The signs reads as “If you’re 23 or younger, you’re not allowed.”

      • I must be reading a different sign than you.
        the one i see has no mention of what is not allowed.

        • It’s true. It just implies they’re not welcome by omission.

          • that’s not a ban though.

          • You are right. It is not a ban. And a sign saying “We welcome white people!” would not be a ban on non-white people from entering either.

          • oh jesus.
            you think that’s the same?

          • No, I don’t. Ages are on IDs and people age out of age floors, so it’s different. But blanket bans and the justifications for them all look similar. And the argument that “We welcome X” is not a ban on not-X rings as true either way.

          • HaileUnlikely

            They are not explicitly banning patrons aged 21-23, but I suspect that they’re ok with said demographic misconstruing the sign as such and taking it upon themselves to turn around and leave.

        • It implies it. Sort of like if a restaurant had a sign saying “We welcome customers wearing shirts and shoes.”
          The only other usage I could see for “welcome” would be if they wanted to specify something that might not be obvious, like “We welcome service animals.” (And “We welcome service animals” tacitly implies “We don’t welcome non-service animals.”)

    • Even if you interpret DC statutes to including 21-23 year olds as a protected class and bars as an included place of business, the law would be against the practice of banning younger patrons, not having a sign that says you welcome people 24 and over.

      • Absolutely true. Everyone here is re-litigating the ban that they are are not implementing, when we really should be debating on whether this clarification is plausible or, as I’d contend, a farcical backtrack.

  • Lets all agree that people on the internet like to get bent out of shape over things that don’t really matter. Let us all move on.

  • Glad their backing down from the silly ban. But, obviously, the new policy is not the original intention of the sign.

  • If the bar doesn’t want college-aged students in, then that’s up to them and if folks don’t like that, then don’t go there. There are plenty of other places in DC to drink.

    This isn’t some injustice for 22-24-year-olds. Back when I was in college (when the earth was still cooling of course), there were some bars in my college town that allowed everyone in (no matter how horribly fake their ID was), then there were some that everyone knew were super strict about ID laws and therefore kept underclassmen out and there were even other bars that students just didn’t got to. It was what it was. There were plenty of options for everyone. And of course there was no Internet around for everyone to complain about it, so maybe things would be different now.

    • Was that before or after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 passed? Just curious if you liked the bars so much better back then because black people weren’t allowed in them either.

      • Wow! I’m not often shocked here, but just wow.

        • Sorry. I get annoyed by appeals to the past, because the past was absolutely awful.

          • Oh no, don’t apologize to me. I’m thoroughly enjoying you making a fool of yourself about this sign/policy/reasoning behind the former 2.

          • Oh, okay. You’re welcome.

          • Timebomb, I don’t necessarily disagree with everything you have said over these two posts, but you aren’t helping your cause at all by making comments like these. My experience was very similar to Alumnae, and that wasn’t even 20 years ago. Get some perpective before you start lecturing all of us on ours.

      • You are an insufferable pedant. Please just stop.

      • Why are you trying to make this a race thing? And yesterday I believe you brought up gays, transgender, etc. The fact is people are black, gay, transgender, etc. and that’s their life Being 23, 24 is a period in time and they will not be that age forever! You cannot compare the two.

        • I completely agree. Being discriminated for being (or, I suppose, looking) young is not as dehumanizing as being discriminated for something you forever are. But the justifications given for why it’s okay to stereotype 21-23 year olds, or about how this is a private establishment that can do whatever it wants to create the ambiance they want or distance themselves from crimes that might be committed in the world, all sound creepily similar to arguments defending much worse.
          Also, under DC law, ages 18+ are in the same list of protected classes as those other things, and business are specifically banned from using stereotypes about a group as justification for a business objection. So beyond my moral objections above, it’s certainly a legitimate argument to make that if you replace age 21-23 with some category within another protected class (race, religion, gender, etc.), and it sounds illegal, then this ban (were it to be imposed, which it apparently won’t be) would also be illegal.

      • @timebomb Why do you keep pulling race into this…. No one … I repeat… No one on this feed has said anything about race.. except for you… this has absolutely nothing to do with it….

        • Right. Race and/or history have no place in a discussion about blanket bans on a certain group entering bars in the United States. Nevermind that the applicable laws put age and race in the exact same list, and then legislates them with the exact same language.
          When someone points out that race and age are different, I always agree. I don’t consider 21-23 year olds to be a persecuted minority. But I do support broad laws, because I don’t know what a carveout for 20-somethings and bars would look like, and this ban just seems wholly unnecessary. I don’t know how to get that nuance across, and am genuinely (and repetitively) struggling.

  • Give ’em the benefit of the doubt. They’re a great bar and have always been very friendly no matter the size of the group or their ages.
    It’s a poorly-designed sign. Big deal.

  • Boy, kids today really have it tough. In my day, your driver’s license was heavy paper with no photo and you could (carefully) scratch out the birth date with a razor and use a black pen to put in what you want. Voila, fake id. When I came to DC, the drinking age for beer and wine was 18 and hard liquor was 21 so although I was only 17, bars would accept a college id with a photo on it, but no birth date. Of course, they’d assume under 21 so you could only order beer or wine. If you wanted a “real” fake id, you could get one pretty much anywhere in Georgetown. It used to crack me up that those worked because they basically said “Identification Card” at the top. I suppose enforcement was a lot more lax back then.

    In terms of the matter at hand, I suspect they did want to ban those under 24, but got so much bad press about it, they tried to cover their butts. I liked the original interpretation better. Bars are more fun without mobs of college kids there.

    • I miss the pre-Internet, pre-War on Terror era. People were chill, you could party at 18, and kids could wander into all sorts of adventures without their parents getting arrested for child neglect.
      So many sanitized joy-killers nowadays sucking the fun and magic out of life.

      • I think groups that pushed to have the drinking age raised meant well, but made things like this more complicated, given that a lot of kids go away to college at age 18. If the drinking age was 18, the “fake ID age” group would (mostly) still be going home to their parents after (or someone’s parents, at least more often than the fake-ID age group does now that it’s been moved to where they’re in college). I think that’s more the issue than internet and the war on “terra” as W always seemed to call it.

        • saf

          Much as I do not want my bars full of 18 year olds, the fact is, in every other way, you are a legal adult at 18. Let them be adults then.

          • rental cars, hotel rentals, car insurance, and a few other life things don’t kick in until your ~24.

    • +1
      I think they’re backtracking with a bs story that doesn’t make a lot of sense. You could have a fake ID that said you were 24, and the bouncer can turn away any person/ID they find suspicious – regardless of any mention of age.

    • saf

      Wow, that’s what I thought when I read this too – right down to the starting college at 17. We are the same age? Although at that point DC DLs had pictures, but my NYS DL did not.

      • We could be the same age although I usually think I’m the oldest one at the unofficial happy hours…

  • General Grant Circle

    Having worked in a bar this is a constant headache. Good for Dew Drop for practicing extra diligence!
    (That being said, can we just make the drinking age 18 already?)

  • except that’s not what the sign says. People are so dim.

  • If it’s true that DC is no longer arresting people for using fake’s than things have changed A LOT. When I was in college from 2002-2005, they’d have a paddy wagon outside McFadden’s and I was warned by my sorority advisors of how girls had been arrested for using fakes. The rules were so strict that most of my friends didn’t even attempt to get into bars when they were underage.

  • Their statement is stupid and false.

    They have to change their sign if they really do want to welcome any 21-23 year olds, because this sign clearly makes those 21-23 seem unwelcomed. Also, more than 25% of college students are over 21. I started college when I was 21. In my University the average age was actually 22. Not all people have mommy and daddy pay for college, not everyone goes immediately after they turn 18 and graduate from HS.

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