Proponents say 'wet' Dallas could curb ID theft

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by REBECCA LOPEZ

Bio | Email | Follow: @rlopezwfaa

WFAA

Posted on October 19, 2010 at 12:18 AM

DALLAS — At some Dallas bars and restaurants, it's not enough just to show your ID to get a drink; you have to actually hand it over and get it swiped.

But before you even take a sip, you may already be paying a high price if a criminal cashes in.

Monday marked the start of early voting, and one of the hottest issue on the ballot is beer and wine sales in Dallas.

Voters will be asked to get rid of the "private membership" clubs where you have to sign up and surrender your personal information to buy a drink.

Some say it's a bad way to do business; others argue the law keeps people from drinking too much.

Kent Rathbun owns several popular Dallas restaurants. He dislikes having to ask customers for their drivers licenses to buy an alcoholic drink, saying it's only asking for trouble.

"I just think any time you turn over your personal information to anyone, it is not a good idea," he said.

Ten million people a year are victims of identity theft. Dallas police say they get dozens of complaints a year from people who believe their identities were stolen at restaurants.

Bonnie Lotridge is a bartender. She says you never know who is going to end up with your info. Waiters and bartenders see them, and information also has to be turned over to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

"In this day and age, you can't be too careful," Lotridge said. "There are opportunities with wireless transmissions and people who are not necessarily in our industry who can grab your information. It's vulnerable."

On November 2, Dallas voters will be asked to expand beer and wine sales so the city is all "wet." If that happens, private membership won't be needed, and customers won't have to turn over ID cards.

"Some of the restaurants that you're talking about can literally be across the street from one another," Rathbun said.

Restaurants say the private memberships drive away business because people don't want the hassle — or the risk.

Opponents say increasing beer and wine sales might also lead to an increase in crime like drunk driving and public intoxication.

But proponents of making Dallas wet say beer and wine sales would generate millions of dollars in revenue.

E-mail rlopez@wfaa.com

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