Does a Date of Birth Expire?

In our ongoing testing of our card overlays, we’ve recently had a discussion with a bar owner about the importance of the expiry date on an ID. Our drinking overlay currently blacks out all personal details on a driver’s license and health card, exposing only the photograph and the date of birth. The owner declined the ID in our card overlay on the basis of the hidden expiry date.

We’ve researched some of the literature published by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario where the Liquor License Act confirms that “valid identification must be current, government-issued and include a photo of the person and the birth date” [pg 9, You and the Liquor Laws].

In line with our project’s minimum disclosure principle, we started wondering: what is the importance of the expiry date of a card when serving alcohol? Arguably, carrying expired ID cards raises suspicion. As the bar owner we spoke to pointed out, an expired ID suggests that the card is a ‘hand-me down,’ passed along from someone who no longer needs it (such as an older sibling). Expired ID cards become a useful sign to spot fraudulent IDs.

This is an understandable argument when dealing with questionable-aged drinkers but it becomes shaky when it is generalized into an all-encompassing law. The logic of ‘a valid card is a current card’ begins to blur how much information private organizations have access to. This Prop-ID project wants to keep clear the distinction between the primary use of a card (such as a Driver’s License) and the secondary use of the card (such as age-verification at a bar). It is a confusion of these roles to equate the validity of the driver’s license (the primary role of a card, to grant driving privileges) with the validity of the date of the birth (the secondary role of the card, to verify age).

Just as other parts of the ID can be used to ‘test’ the authenticity of the card to the card holder (such as asking them their address, their height, etc.), the expiry date is a useful sign when there is doubt of the person’s age. Mandating everyone provides these details instills a pre-established suspicion of the citizen into the alcohol transaction.