There are some items (Cigarettes, adult magazines, beer) that are classified as restricted items by the law. This means that you have to be a certain age to buy them. More than that, though, you have to prove that you're old enough. This means offering up some form of accepted identification as proof. Accepted ID usually includes a driver's license, a state-issued ID card, or an active duty military ID. Sometimes, a passport may be accepted.

An expired Driver's license or state ID is not good enough... there's a reason they expire, after all - you don't look like you did when that picture was taken any more. Neither is a Dependent's Military ID. Your school ID isn't going to pull any weight. That flimsy paper temporary driver's license that the DMV gives you is laughable... those can be duplicated on a good color laser printer in under an hour. A photocopied driver's license (I swear, there's a guy running around Orange, CA with one of these, insisting it's legal, and that I'm an "idiot" for refusing to sell to him) is just plain stupid.

A police officer might be willing to accept any of those listed above. He has resources above and beyond what a convenience store clerk can draw upon for verifying someone's identity. But even a cop will laugh at any of the following:

  • "I left it in my other pants." - Then you can go back and get your other pants.
  • "I'll just have my buddy come in and buy it for me." - Thanks for telling me. Now I have to refuse to sell him anything, too. It's called a Second-Party Sale, and it's against the law.
  • "Can't you tell I'm old enough?" - My judgment isn't the issue here, but thank you for both trying to deflect the question and inferring that I'm an idiot. I've seen 16-year-olds who looked 22... and 22-year-olds who looked 16.
  • "Come on, there's no cop here." - Oh, so it's only illegal if there's someone watching? And thank you again for insulting my integrity!
  • "I buy here all the time." - Then why have I never seen you before?
  • "The other guy sells to me all the time." - I'm not the other guy. I'm the one who's asking to see your ID.
  • "The cop took away my driver's license for a DUI." - Oh, that REALLY encourages me. And yet you drove up here anyway.
Carding you is part of the clerk's job. If he doesn't do it, he can get suspended, fired, fined, or even jailed. It's not any kind of an insult, and the only reason it's a "hassle" is because you choose to view it as one. Clerks with integrity won't fall for any of the above excuses, and will probably resent your giving them a hard time about it. And yet, I get someone using one or more of those lines at least once a night... and someone who goes through the whole list, then reverts to cursing at me, about once a week.

God, I love this job.

In the UK, there is an ID card, "Prove It!" specifically for the purposes of allowing you to buy booze in pubs and off licences. So, for the fresh-faced amongst you, here is how to get yourself a real fake Prove It! card:

(Disclaimer: This is probably illegal. The methods described below are for novelty purposes only)


One accomplice with no morals, aged over 18. For the purposes of this recipe, we shall call him Fred.
One responsible person of good standing, such as a doctor or vicar
Two photographs of accomplice, passport sized
Two photographs of self, also passport sized
Two application forms for a Prove It! card (can be downloaded from:

Step One

Get Fred to go to the responsible person and ask him/her if he/she would be willing to vouch for Fred's age. They will need to fill in and sign one of the Prove It! application forms stating that, yes, they know Fred and yes, he is over 18. They will also need to sign the backs of the two photos of Fred to certify that they are a true likeness of him.

Step Two

Discard the photos of Fred. Also discard the filled-out application form.

Step Three

Fill in the fresh application form. Use different handwriting (maybe Fred's) for the bits which are supposed to have been filled out by the responsible person. Use exactly the same details as were on the original, now discarded application.

Step Four

This is the clever bit. Sign the backs of the photos with the name of the responsible person. This will show that the photo of you is a good likeness of Fred and that you/Fred are over eighteen. (Do you see where I'm going with this yet?)

Step Five

Send off the form.

Step Six


Step Seven

You will presently receive in the post, a Prove It! card with the name and age of Fred, but with your photo. You can (illegally - don't do it) use this to purchase alcoholic beverages even though you're underage.

Step Eight


The point of all this palaver, is of course that if the Prove It! people decide to do a random checkup on your card apllication, then they do so by contacting your chosen responsible person by post or phone and asking him, "Did you sign a form saying Fred is over eighteen?" Whereupon your resposible person will say "Yes, I did."

Because he did.

Sneaky, huh?

Disclaimer 2: I did not think this up myself. I'm way not that cunning. It was devised by a friend of mine, who I shall not name in case he doesn't want me to. I did come up with the "amusing" recipe format for it though. Have fun, kids!

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