HB 3751 intoxicating new law, Oklahoma ID
(Mike Allen)

Twists aren’t just a fun cocktail garnish when it comes to alcohol in Oklahoma. It turns out that what the law says, or doesn’t say, can be a bit tricky to the people tasked with enforcing it.

Gov. Kevin Stitt signed House Bill 3571 into law last week, and as best we can tell at NonDoc by looking up statutes, rules and city codes, the measure simply emphasizes what had already been the law: Adults obviously age 21 or older can buy alcohol without presenting identification.

Sure, misinformation spread via Alcohol Beverage Law Enforcement Commission-sanctioned compliance trainers has convinced many bartenders and liquor store owners it was illegal to sell someone alcohol if they did not present state identification, but it turns out that was not true.

“From what my conversations were with ABLE, they said it is not clear in the law, so we’re just making it clear,” Rep. Robert Manger (R-Midwest City) said March 5 on the House floor when presenting HB 3571.

To clarify existing law for the often-obnoxious ABLE Commission, HB 3571 creates a new statute — Title 37A, Section 2-163 — specifying that Oklahoma businesses are not required to ask people who are obviously adults for identification to purchase alcohol.

The new law reads:

Holders of a license issued by the Oklahoma Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement Commission pursuant to Title 37A of the Oklahoma statutes shall not be required by state law, administrative rule, or regulation to check identification (ID) cards prior to selling or serving alcoholic beverages to a person. A license holder, upon their discretion, may still choose to check and verify a person’s ID prior to selling or serving a person an alcoholic beverage.

Nothing in this section shall absolve the license holder from the prohibition of selling or serving alcoholic beverages to a person under twenty-one (21) years of age.

Apparently, Manger was motivated to file HB 3571 when his 90-year-old friend, Odell, was denied a beer by an establishment because he was not carrying his ID.

That sounds kind of silly, but apparently businesses were being led to believe those were the rules. When Manger presented his bill, Rep. Meloyde Blancett (D-Tulsa) said she was in favor of the proposal owing to the ABLE Commission’s own actions.

“Would you believe ABLE has been sending out secret shoppers that are 60-plus in age?” Blancett asked Manger. “They are citing those restauranteurs that are not asking 60-plus years of age customers (…) to present their license.”

HB 3571 won’t take effect until Nov. 1, so be careful not to flaunt your new-found knowledge too brazenly this Cinco de Mayo.

And don’t forget: Bartenders and liquor store owners will still need to read and understand alcohol codes in their specific city or town. Oklahoma City municipal code, for instance, requires drinkers to prove their age to obtain alcohol if “an ordinary person would conclude on the basis of appearance” that they “may be under 21 years of age.”

But no ordinary person would conclude 90-year-old Odell is under age 21.

Now, Betty Boop just turned 94 this April, so that may be a different story.

(Correction: This article was updated at 12:40 p.m. Wednesday, May 29, to correct reference to a lawmaker’s name. NonDoc regrets the error.)

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