The Café no longer accepts vertical licenses

Kyndal Reimer

The Ames Police Department caught 16 restaurants involved with selling alcohol to minors this January by conducting a crackdown funded by the Youth and Shelter Services. As a result, each restaurant has been fined $735, according to WHO-TV.

Because of the recent exposure, The Café, one of the restaurants “caught” in the sting, has a new rule regarding ID’s that has sparked commotion among some of its customers.

Three weeks ago, the owner of the restaurant declared that in order to gain back its liability, the restaurant will no longer be accepting vertically-oriented licenses. This applies even if the customer is 21 years old or if the customer’s parents are present. The only acceptable Iowa identification is the horizontal state ID.

In Iowa, anyone under 21 has a vertically oriented license. When residents renew their license after turning 21, a horizontal license is issued.

According to the Iowa DOT, “The vertical cards aid law enforcement, drinking establishments and retailers by offering quick and easy identification for individuals under age 21 and discourages alteration of the licenses.”

This alteration has been catching customers by surprise, and in response, has been getting both negative and positive feedback. 

Maddy LeDuc, senior in biochemistry, and her friend have enjoyed their monthly visits to The Café for dinner, drinks and dessert for a while now. However, on Feb. 20, this tradition hit a roadblock due to the restaurant’s new policy. The women were told they would not be served alcohol due to their ID’s both being vertical.

We were both really disappointed because we had been doing this for months without a problem,” LeDuc said. “Most people don’t have to renew their license until they are 23 and don’t want to pay to have them renewed early just so they have a horizontal ID. As long as an ID shows that a person is of age, I really don’t see what the problem is.”

On The Café’s Facebook page, followers expressed similar disappointed reactions through their posts and comments.  

However, there’s another side to this issue.

Charles Theesfield, a manager at The Café, explained the new rule and the favorable aspects of it. 

“The rule against the acceptance of vertical ID’s is one way to deteriorate underage drinking. It’s no mystery that underage drinking is problematic in a college town,” Theesfield said. “It also removes unnecessary extra stress from the waiter’s and waitress’ job.”

According to the Santa Fe New Mexican, the vertical ID is notorious for being abused and used illegally to purchase alcohol by a minor. 

Theesfield believes that the new regulation has proved to be the appropriate way to deal with the situation and he’s not the only one to think so.

According to National Center for Biotechnology Information, “From 1994 to 2009, 43 states changed the design of their driver’s license/state identification cards in an effort to reduce underage access to and consumption of alcohol and tobacco.” Like Iowa, these states switch their ID’s from vertical to horizontal once you turn 21. 

In states such as New Mexico, Arizona, Illinois, Virginia and others, vertical licenses are unaccepted as a form of ID when purchasing alcohol, even if you are 21.