Change allows official Massachusetts ID Card to be used for purchase of alcohol

BOSTON – Friday, November 9, 2012 – The Massachusetts Office on Disability (MOD) announced that, beginning October 29, the official Massachusetts Identification Card is now an acceptable form of identification for the purchase of alcohol, removing a long-held stigma against individuals with disabilities.  The change was signed into law by Governor Deval Patrick on July 30, 2012 and went into effect on October 29, 2012.

MOD, the Commonwealth’s Americans with Disabilities Act Coordinating Agency, has been advocating for the passage of this change through the legislature for the past three sessions.  MOD had found that, too often, adults with disabilities were refused the opportunity to purchase alcohol at arenas, turned away from restaurants, and even denied cold medicine at their local drugstore, because their Massachusetts Identification Card was deemed unacceptable identification.  The law, signed by Governor Patrick, was supported by a number of members of the Legislature.

“This is a small statutory change that will have a huge impact on the lives of persons with disabilities across the Commonwealth,” said Myra Berloff, Director of the Massachusetts Office on Disability (MOD). “My agency regularly received calls from individuals affected by this statute, and I thank the Patrick-Murray Administration and our legislative supporters for their commitment to ensuring equal opportunity for people with disabilities.”  

Previously, the Commonwealth’s General Laws dictated only four acceptable forms of identification that establishments could rely on before selling alcohol to a patron. These four forms of identification were: a valid MA Driver’s license issued by the Registry of Motor Vehicles, a liquor identification card issued by the Registry of Motor Vehicles, a valid passport issued either by the US or another foreign government that is recognized by the US government, or a valid US-issued military ID.

The Massachusetts Identification card is also issued by the Registry of Motor Vehicles and is designed to be used by individuals who do not or cannot get a driver’s license; many who fall into this category are disabled veterans or persons with disabilities who can’t drive. The Massachusetts Identification Card looks very similar to a driver’s license and features the same information and tamper proof features as a driver’s license.  The Massachusetts Identification card has been an acceptable form of state-issued identification for all other facets of daily life except the purchase of alcohol until the signing of this legislation.

The new law, now codified as Chapter 170 of the Acts of 2012, became effective October 29.  Going forward, adults possessing valid Massachusetts Identification Cards will be able to use their ID to purchase alcohol, cold medicine and other similarly regulated products if they are otherwise eligible. MOD has worked with the Alcohol Beverages Control Commission (ABCC) to communicate this change to establishments that sell alcohol.