This Is Why Your Vertical I.D. Isn't Accepted at Certain Bars in Colorado - 303 Magazine (2023)

8 min read

It’s Friday night and your best friend Lauren from Georgia is visiting. She’s never been to Colorado, and you’re about to check out a bar downtown so she can experience the quick buzz lowlanders get when they drink a mile above sea level. It’s going to be awesome.

Your Uber drops you off and you both get carded at the door. Two minutes later, you guys are leaving—trying to hail that same Uber. So — what happened?

Well, Lauren’s I.D. wasn’t accepted. She is 24 — the same age as you. She pulls out her vertical I.D. and you try to make sense of it. The I.D. hasn’t expired, but it doesn’t seem to matter. No one will be serving your friend alcohol tonight. Some places won’t even let her in the bar. She assures you it’s not a fake, and you believe her, but there’s nothing you can do. Unless Lauren has another form of I.D. to prove she is 21 years of age or older, it looks like you might be staying in.

Whether you’re a transplant who can’t change your I.D. yet, or someone with friends or family visiting from another state, the system might seem a little unfair, so we decided to ask someone why.

Jon Balliet is a Certified TIPS (Training for Intervention Procedures) Instructor in Colorado, which means it’s his job to ensure servers, bartenders and anyone else who is selling or serving alcohol is trained to prevent underage drinking, drunk driving and intoxication. TIPS training is now mandatory in many states and is a program designed to teach those dealing with alcohol to recognize the complications that could arise and intervene when necessary.

Balliet, who worked in the service industry for many years as a cook and bartender, said that his career as a TIPS instructor began when one of his employees failed a sting operation with the police when Boulder started strictly enforcing the TIPS training requirement.

“I got into it because everybody in Boulder had to do it,” Balliet said.

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According to Balliet, the crackdown on proper I.D. checking enforcement initiated many businesses and restaurants in Colorado to train employees within 90 days of hire to become certified through TIPS.

Colorado is a state that does not mess around, and that’s why Balliet says your vertical I.D. (even if it’s legal) might not be accepted at certain bars or businesses, but some places might still make an exception. Balliet wants to clear up some confusion about the enforcement though.

This Is Why Your Vertical I.D. Isn't Accepted at Certain Bars in Colorado - 303 Magazine (1)

A bar menu at a local bar saying it doesn’t accept vertical IDs. Photo by Brittany Werges.

“It’s not a Colorado rule; It’s a suggestion. There are so few states that don’t even issue vertical I.D.s. They just issue horizontal I.D.s to everybody. All a vertical I.D. truly means is that someone was a minor when it was issued, and that’s true in any state because they don’t issue those to of-age people. With these expiration dates — some expire right on their birthday. In Colorado, it’s generally 20 days after their birthday. But some [states’ I.D.s] expire five to 10 years later,” Balliet said.

So in other words, Lauren, who’s from Georgia, can use her vertical I.D. for up to eight years after her 21st birthday, but in Colorado, you only have 20 days to get a new one after your 21st birthday— despite when it was issued. According to Balliet though, it doesn’t matter if Lauren’s vertical I.D. is legal. She can still be turned away by a bouncer.

“If they say they don’t take vertical I.D.s, that’s not illegal — that’s a policy. It [the I.D.] may still be valid, but that’s their [the business’] prerogative and choice to say we’re not going to take it,” he said.

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In Balliet’s opinion, many businesses in the state rely on Colorado’s vertical I.D. expiration date window to make decisions about serving consumers with vertical I.D.s.

“Especially in Colorado where it’s only a 20-day window, it’s easier to just say ‘We’re not going to let our staff make a mistake for 20 days. Come back and see us with your new I.D.’ They’re not obligated to take every I.D. It’s about individual proprietary policy,” Balliet said.

Serving beer via Pixabay

Balliet believes the main reason for not accepting legal vertical I.D.s is because businesses don’t want to risk losing liquor licenses.

“When the police run sting operations, they’re sending in real minors with real valid underage I.D.s. from one of the, last I checked—44 states, that used vertical versions. There’s a high probability when someone is presented a vertical I.D. that it could be the police,” Balliet said.

No one is enforcing proprietors to turn down vertical I.D.s, but there’s enough scare to make them want to.

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“You’ve got to understand, it’s either a minor generally or it’s a minor working for the police or it’s someone who’s in a limited window of time after their birthday, but not before the expiration of their legal I.D. So, a lot of places will have policies that say ‘Hey, we’re not even going to screw with it. We’re going to say no,’” Balliet said.

“As a business owner, it’s their liquor license and they’re risking losing it. They’d rather have a policy that says no to protect the license than worry about the 10 to 100 tourists in a year that they may be refusing to serve in that situation.”

But what do you do if you get someone from South Carolina whose vertical I.D. is good for 10 years after they turn 21?

“You can make a customer service decision. I feel that if you check the I.D. the right way, you should feel comfortable doing that. Not everybody is. Nor do all the people necessarily know the things that I’m telling you about. That’s why I teach the training,” Balliet said.

Balliet said that his classes involve mostly learning how to identify a genuine form of I.D.

“I teach about how they’re made and what the security features are to recognize [authentic] I.D.s. If you know what’s real, you’ll always know what’s fake,” Balliet said.

And technically, in Colorado, Balliet says you don’t even need proper identification at all if you’re of age.

“Nobody needs an I.D. on his or her person to be served or sold alcohol. That’s in the liquor code. Should you be serving young-looking people with no I.D. at all or with an expired I.D.? Absolutely not. You’re running a big risk there and a vertical I.D. is a pretty big indicator that you’re in the danger zone,” Balliet said.

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“Any state-issued I.D.s are acceptable forms; it doesn’t matter whether they’re vertical or not. But legally, you don’t need an I.D. I’m 44. When I walk in, maybe they have a policy that they card everybody, maybe they don’t. If I didn’t have an I.D. or had an expired I.D., they wouldn’t be breaking the law by serving me a drink. I don’t need one. But a bartender is not obligated to serve you. They could say no for a variety of reasons.”

So how do you ensure that your vertical I.D. will be accepted in Colorado? Well, you can’t. But you can carry around another legal form of identification that proves you’re of age such as a passport. Balliet also emphasizes there’s another easier way.

“You could go get a new I.D. You could go get a horizontal I.D. and use one of the approved forms. A lot of people — especially from out of state — get a little perturbed by that,” he said.

Balliet though just wants to get rid of vertical I.D.s entirely or at least have them all expire at the same time.

“There are literally 50 different states doing it [issuing vertical I.D.s] 50 different ways. The only commonality is that they’re issuing them to minors. If we get the states to agree on a federal level to some degree, it would make vertical I.D.s go away and force people to check them properly. You wouldn’t get confused about what South Carolina does or what they do in Ohio. If you normalize that, it would make it a lot easier for servers,” he said.

“There’s been a lot of different tactics, so how do you normalize that?”

It might be frustrating, but Balliet assures us that you shouldn’t get pissed at your bartender. The bar is just trying to cover its ass, and it’s hard to turn people away.

“It becomes a customer service nightmare for some people.”

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Why doesn't Colorado accept vertical ID? ›

Balliet believes the main reason for not accepting legal vertical I.D.s is because businesses don't want to risk losing liquor licenses. “When the police run sting operations, they're sending in real minors with real valid underage I.D.s. from one of the, last I checked—44 states, that used vertical versions.

Do Colorado bars accept vertical IDs? ›

Colorado law mandates that Colorado residents 21 and up must have a horizontal ID, so some dispensaries and bars won't allow anybody without one inside, even if the ID is valid or from another state, to avoid any risk of serving underage customers.

Can I buy alcohol with a vertical ID in Texas? ›

Any form of government issued photo identification (passports, state-issued ID cards, immigration cards,ext) are valid enough for the purchase of alcohol.

Do you need a horizontal ID to buy alcohol in Texas? ›

Texas state law does not require a person over 21 to present an ID to buy alcohol in Texas. Nothing in the law declares specific forms of “valid” IDs for alcohol purchases.

Is my Colorado ID a real ID? ›

Do I have to get a REAL ID compliant credential? No, but please note that all Colorado driver licenses and ID cards, except CO-RCSA credentials, have been REAL ID compliant since 2012. Having a REAL ID compliant credential will likely make traveling easier for you.

Can you drink on your 21st birthday with your old license Colorado? ›

No. You might be 21 but your expired, invalid license is unable to prove that you are of legal age to drink. You could have stolen the license, or have a brother or cousin who looks just like you. Generally bars will card every single person, or every single person who appears under a certain age (usually 30 or 40).

What is a valid ID for alcohol Colorado? ›

ACCEPTED ID'S Any state issued, Canadian, Mexican or US territory issued driver's license; Military ID; Passport; State- Issued ID with Photo; Alien Registration Card; A valid employment card w/photo and DOB issued by immigration & Naturalization Service.

Is Colorado Digital ID accepted? ›

Colorado Digital ID may be accepted as a legal form of personal identification for use in Colorado. All executive branch agencies may accept Colorado Digital ID as a method to prove a person's identity where a physical driver license or other state identification is currently required.

Are minors allowed in bars in Colorado? ›

According to our state law, as well as that of every other state, persons consuming or in possession of alcohol must be of at least 21 years of age (12-47-901). In Colorado it is illegal to enter into a liquor store if under 21 years of age (12-47-901(b)).

Do Denver bars accept vertical IDs? ›

What Identification do I need? You must have either a USA Government Issued ID or an International Passport. Vertical IDs are not commonly accepted at Denver bars, no matter how old you are.

Can you go to Vegas with a vertical ID? ›

Re: Will I be able to use my ID? I agree that you shouldn't have any problems. I celebrated my 21st with a vertical VA ID and had no problems. If you are paranoid and have a passport, that would eliminate your concerns.

Which is an indicator of a false ID? ›

Lifted corners may be a sign of a fake ID. Check and feel the front and back of the ID for bumps, ridges and irregularities, feel for information that may be cut out or pasted on, especially near the photo and date of birth.

Why do stores scan your ID for cigarettes? ›

To ensure we sell products including alcohol and tobacco in a safe and responsible manner, our stores are now verifying customers' age by scanning drivers licenses.

What is vertical identification? ›

Vertical state identification cards and driver's licenses are issued to people younger than 21 years old.

Does body fat absorb alcohol? ›

Alcohol absorption varies depending upon the person's body fat level. For instance, a person with a higher percentage of body fat will be slower to absorb alcohol than someone with less.

What does a Colorado REAL ID look like? ›

Real ID-compliant cards have a star in a black circle or a yellow star in the top right corner. Even if you have an older Colorado ID, you're still set. Licenses from compliant states — regardless of if the ID is the new or old version — will be accepted after Jan.

Is it a felony to have a fake ID in Colorado? ›

Use of a fake ID card in most Colorado Municipalities is only a “muni offense” with fines of up to $1000 and/or one year in jail. The State of Colorado also provides for the possession of fake identification as a felony with fines up to $1000, and one year in jail if convicted.

How much does a REAL ID cost in Colorado? ›

The Colorado identification card fee is $10.50 for applicants under 21 years of age. These applicants must renew their ID card on or before the 21st birthday. The fee is also $10.50 for applicants between the ages of 21 and 59. In this instance, the ID card is valid for five years.

Can you drink at 18 with a parent in Colorado? ›

Underage Consumption

Yes, in any private location if parent/guardian is present or consents Note: Colorado's exception requires the knowledge and consent of the owner of the private property when minors consume alcohol (in addition to the consent and presence of a parent or guardian).

What age can you drink with your parents in Colorado? ›

21 years old.

People under 21 who possess or drink alcohol face charges for minor in possession (18-13-122 C.R.S.). This crime is abbreviated as MIP in Colorado.

Can a 15 year old drink alcohol at home? ›

It's legal: for over 18s to buy beer, wine or cider for 16 and 17 year olds if they're having a meal together in licensed premises, like a pub. for 5 to 17 year olds to drink alcohol at home or other private premises.

What proof of ID do I need to buy alcohol? ›

Examples of acceptable ID include photo card driving licences, passports, military identification or proof of age cards bearing the PASS hologram, although other forms of ID which meet the criteria laid out above are also acceptable.”

What are the ID laws in Colorado? ›

Colorado's “stop and identify” laws require you to show the police your ID if the police 1) pull you over for a traffic violation, or 2) detain you on a reasonable belief of criminal activity. But aside from those two instances, you are not required to identify yourself to police or to answer their questions.

What is valid ID for clubs? ›

Valid proof of identy documents are: Passport. National Identity (ID) card with a photo. Driving license.

Can you buy alcohol with Digital ID Colorado? ›

The Digital ID includes a feature people can use to ​hide personal details that are not pertinent for identity verification. For instance, to purchase alcohol, the holder can hide their address and birthdate using the toggle settings in the app. There is an indicator that shows if they are over 21.

Do bars accept myColorado ID? ›

31. The Colorado State Patrol isn't the only organization accepting the digital form of ID, more than 300 restaurants, bars, businesses and state agencies have joined the “myColorado Partner Program,” and are already accepting the Colorado Digital ID.

Will TSA accept Colorado Digital ID? ›

Continue to carry your physical driver license or state-issued ID card for interactions with law enforcement, state government agencies and businesses who aren't yet accepting Digital ID, as well as for use at airport TSA checkpoints. Colorado Digital ID is currently only authorized for in-state use.

Can someone under 21 be in a bar in Colorado? ›

People under the age of 21 may enter or remaining in a licensed business. However, they may not buy alcohol. Colorado alcohol laws prohibit public consumption of beer that's over 3.2% alcohol, wine, or distilled spirits.

What is the drinking age in Colorado for 3.2 beer? ›

But in 1987, in deference to the Feds, Colorado lawmakers upped the age requirements for 3.2 beer sales to 21 in order to keep getting highway tax funds that would have otherwise been given to more righteous and morally pure states like Illinois and New York.

Is 3.2 beer still sold in Colorado? ›

As craft beer rose in Colorado, sales of 3.2 beer in grocery stores shriveled. With the 3.2 cap removed, grocery and convenience stores can now sell the craft brands that dominate in Colorado.

Can I use my under 21 ID when I turn 21 Colorado? ›

Applicants turning 21 years of age must apply for their adult driver license, permit, or identification card on or after their 21st birthday to receive an adult credential. Your new driver license, permit or ID card will be mailed to the address you provide.

Do DC bars accept vertical IDs? ›

Acceptable forms of ID include an unexpired driver license or identification cards (vertical or horizontal) issued by: • Any state OTHER THAN ARIZONA, • The District Of Columbia, • Any Territory Of The United States or Canada if the license includes: • a picture of the licensee and • the person's date of birth.

Does Uncle Ike's take vertical IDs? ›

Uncle Ike's does not accept vertical IDs.

Can I buy alcohol with a vertical ID in AZ? ›

(Vertical licenses in Arizona are issued to minors). An Arizona resident who turns 21 and has a vertical ID has 30 days to use it to buy alcohol. But once those 30 days are over, the law requires businesses to reject the vertical license. Note: get a horizontal license soon after you turn 21.

Do casinos take passports? ›

A Form of Identification

All guests who wish to enter the casino must present identification. Any form of valid identification with your birthdate and photo will do: a passport, a driver's license, or an identification card.

Can you fly to Vegas with drivers license? ›

Beginning May 7, 2025, every traveler must present a REAL ID-compliant driver's license, state-issued enhanced driver's license, or other acceptable forms of identification, such as a valid passport or U.S. military ID, to fly within the U.S. Review the complete list of acceptable identification.

How does a fake ID look like? ›

It must have a digitally printed photograph of the holder with a holographic overlay (1). No signature or incorrect signature (2). Since fake IDs are created in a hurry, they usually have spelling mistakes and incorrect flag images (3). Feel the surface of the license by running your thumb over the card.

Do ID scanners detect fake IDs? ›

While it's possible to catch fake IDs using simple ID scanners, it's uncommon for forgers to craft IDs with faulty barcodes or magnetic strips. Counterfeit IDs sold through the most popular online platforms will all return as valid when scanned.

What is the flashlight test on fake ID? ›

This quick test is what separates the actually decent fakes from the real IDs. If a bartender can shine a flashlight on the magnetic strip of your ID and see the light on the other side, it's not real. Sorry, pal. Just remember, kids: age is temporary, but arrest and fine records are forever.

Why do some bars scan your ID? ›

To confirm that they are real. Real government-issued IDs have various safeguards built into them that forgeries do not have. By scanning the ID or running it through a card reader, the bar owners can ensure that the ID is real and not a fake ID being used by an underage drinker.

What does the club scanner do when they scan your ID? ›

ID scanners collect information including a person's name, date of birth and address. Bar and club owners can use these stats to better meet the needs of their customers and to cater promotions to appeal to certain demographics.

What shows up when an ID is scanned? ›

Essentially, these scanners see what we see with our eyes, name, address, and birthdate. But it's in a different way, through a machine by reading the barcode. These machines are common and are mainly to catch fakes, to make sure you are who you say you are.

What is an example of vertical? ›

The word vertical can also be used to describe the motion of objects. Since we know, vertical stands for top to bottom, the motion of an apple falling from a tree, would be vertical motion. Or the motion of a rocket or a balloon going from bottom to top is also classified as vertical.

What does vertical category mean? ›

A vertical market refers to companies that share a commonality, typically a specific niche market. Companies that operate in vertical markets may sell just one or multiple products and/or services. Vertical markets are specific and targeted, typically appealing to a certain customer group.

What is vertical licensing? ›

Unlike a broad horizontal approach that focuses on licensing partners who sell into as many markets as possible, the vertical strategy focuses on licensing partners selling into specific markets. Each vertical potentially has one or more licensing partners.

What body shape is alcoholic? ›

Studies show that those who engage in heavy drinking tend to consume diets higher in calories, sodium, and fats than those who do not drink. Excessive drinking could cause an individual to develop more of an "apple" body shape, where a higher level of body fat is distributed in the abdominal region.

What organ breaks down alcohol? ›

Alcohol is metabolized in the body mainly by the liver. The brain, pancreas, and stomach also metabolize alcohol.

What food absorbs alcohol best? ›

Bananas. Packing in 4 grams of fiber per large fruit, bananas are an excellent, portable snack to have on hand before drinking to help slow alcohol absorption into your bloodstream ( 10 ). Plus, they're high in potassium, which may prevent electrolyte imbalances associated with drinking alcohol ( 10 ).

Does Colorado Accept Mobile ID? ›

The app's Colorado Digital ID™ feature allows Coloradans to create and store an electronic version of their Colorado driver license or state-issued ID on their smartphone as proof of identity within the state. More information about the myColorado app can be found at 6.

Does Colorado accept digital drivers license? ›

Starting today, Coloradans can choose to add their driver's license or state identification (ID) card to Wallet, and easily and securely present it with a tap of their iPhone or Apple Watch at select Transportation Security Administration (TSA) PreCheck® security checkpoints, including within Denver International ...

Can I use digital driver's license Colorado? ›

Colorado Digital ID is currently only authorized for in-state use. Once the industry Mobile Driver License (mDL) and federal REAL ID Act standards for digital licenses are clarified, interstate use will be supported. You may only have a single Digital ID.

Does Denver not accept vertical IDs? ›

You must have either a USA Government Issued ID or an International Passport. Vertical IDs are not commonly accepted at Denver bars, no matter how old you are.

What is a REAL ID in Colorado? ›

In accordance with the REAL ID Act, the Colorado DMV must verify an applicant's full legal name, identity, date of birth, and lawful presence in the United States when issuing a Colorado driver license or state identification card. Click here to view the DMV identification requirements.

What is Colorado State Mobile ID? ›

The app's contactless Colorado Digital ID™ is an electronic version of your driver license or state-issued identification (ID) card to show proof of ID, age and address within the state.

Is Digital ID accepted? ›

But it is completely optional whether you choose to use it or not. Yes. Using NSW Digital ID is completely optional. It won't replace the paper versions of your credentials and cards, but it will give you a more convenient option to help prove your identity online and in-person.

Is my Colorado license an enhanced driver's license? ›

The star at the top right corner of your Colorado-issued driver license or identification card indicates that you are REAL ID compliant.

What is an EDL license Colorado? ›

Enhanced Drivers Licenses (EDLs) are state-issued enhanced drivers licenses that provide proof of identity and U.S. citizenship. They are issued in a secure process, and include technology that makes travel easier.

Can you travel with a digital license? ›

All passengers must continue to have readily available their physical driver's license, identification card, or other acceptable ID listed on the TSA website. The TSA officer may require this physical ID in addition to the digital ID.

Can I show my ID on my phone? ›

You can easily and securely add your driver's license or state ID to the Wallet app , then use your iPhone or Apple Watch to present your license or ID at select Transportation Security Administration (TSA) security checkpoints and share in apps that require identity verification.

Does Denver Airport accept Digital ID? ›

As an added convenience, the CAT-2 units at DEN are equipped with readers that allow travelers to use state-issued digital driver licenses or digital identification cards for TSA identity verification purposes.

Can I add my Colorado ID to Apple Wallet? ›

Securely add your driver's license or state ID to Apple Wallet on your iPhone and Apple Watch. An iPhone 8 or later, or an Apple Watch Series 4 or later, with the latest version of iOS or watchOS. Face ID or Touch ID turned on.


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