MADISON (WKOW) -- Some Wisconsin lawmakers are pushing for a costly deterrent to using fake IDs.
A bill with bipartisan support, heading to committee in the Legislature, would give business owners who are licensed to sell alcohol the ability to sue underage people for up to $1,000 for trying to drink in their establishments.
"This is something that's worked very successfully in Alaska," Rep. Andre Jacque (R-De Pere) says. Jacque authored the bill to crackdown on the state's binge and underage drinking. He says it gives bar and restaurant owners an incentive to be more vigilant in checking IDs and deter people from using fakes.
Madison bar owners say their struggle to deny people with fake IDs is nothing new. "Sometimes you do need to have the extra bite in the law I guess," State Street Brats owner Kelly Meuer says. He has mixed feelings about how this bill approaches the problem. "Just a college guy, coming in, trying to get a beer is not going to be something I'm thinking that it would be a good idea to go, 'I'm gunna sue you."
The suit amount could range from $250 to $1,000, and would be based on any prior offenses. Jacque says licensees would have to contact law enforcement before filing in civil court. Some believe enforcing the law could prove difficult.
"To be able to, when you're peak busy time, retain people and get their names and find out whose ID was whose, if you are taking it, is pretty complicated," Hawk's General Manager Andrew Hoerig says.
University of Wisconsin-Madison students seem to have differing opinions on the bill. "It's way too much. We're all students, nobody has a $1,000," senior Jake Stotlemeyer says.
"I think it's fair for bar owners to be able to get students in trouble for using fakes," senior Kelsey Fortune says.
The bill has support from the Tavern League. Representative Jacque says business owners wouldn't have to pursue a lawsuit, but doing it just a few times would send a clear message.