Bullet Points for the ABCs of Matricula IDs


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Concerning my recent news article in the OC Weekly regarding the Mexican Matricula Consular ID and California liquor law there was extensive research and analysis that readers did not have the opportunity to view and assess for themselves. Word counts set boundaries in terms of the amount of content a news story can dive into when published in print. This can be helpful in terms of editing down a piece for the sake of conciseness without compromising cogency. On the other hand, sometimes relevant information is sacrificed because simply, the space did not exist for its inclusion.

Therefore, I think that the following bullet points below are important for the purposes of context for this issue that ultimately transcends an incident at a bar last month in Downtown Santa Ana where musicians were denied entry based upon their presentation of the form of ID. I don’t hold that the California Alcoholic Beverage Control agency is any more ‘anti-immigrant’, or ‘anti-Mexican’, than it was ‘anti-troops’ prior to the legislative amending of ‘bona fide identification’ to include military IDs as recently as 01/01/10.

Of course, if greater inclusion of those eligible for California driver licenses is reformed into reality as Gil Cedillo has tried to make happen, then this and the impounding of immigrant vehicles at supposed DUI checkpoints becomes moot, but until then…

*Firstly, there are two cardinal principals to California liquor laws. There is nothing that requires an establishment to request identification – though it is encouraged. Second, the law that must not be broken is that which holds no alcohol can be sold/served to someone under the age of 21.

*When asked for a legal precedent from the California Alcoholic Beverage Control agency concerning an action they took against an establishment surrounding its acceptance of the Mexican matricula, no such response was given by press time. I will leave that to the reader in terms of making a judgment regarding risk assessment. I would never say there is an absence of risk. That’s not the case in any regard. I would, however, qualify it accordingly.

*If ABC investigators can and have used the Mexican matricula to determine a person’s age and identity – as evidenced in the procedural history behind Nav Food Store, LLC vs. California ABC – it stands within the bounds of reason that the criteria that they utilize in terms of determining what constitutes a forged or valid card can be passed down to establishments via already existing trainings.

*The ABC stated to me that an establishment can’t use a matricula as a defense to an action, but in the Nav Food Store case cited in the article (that I found on my own) the clerks attempted as much, only they failed to produced the alleged fake matricula that it said the minor used on previous occasions to prove legal drinking age. (They also said the card had a physical description on it – matriculas don’t – which on two counts, should have hypothetically made for an easy dismissal of their defense by the presiding administrative-law judge — only that wasn’t the case.)

*Had the clerks been able to produce that evidence (speaking again in the hypothetical as other reasons, such as inconsistent testimony, were also instrumental in the decision against them) perhaps a new precedent would have been set, cited and presentable for the over all purposes of this issue. The clerks did attempt an appeal from that angle, which I find interesting. The ABC maintained that had the forged ID been produced, then the California statute for proof of identification would have been raised, but why the wait?

*The spokesperson for the ABC said that matriculas are not considered ‘bona fide identification’ because they lack physical description and are not passports. However, Military IDs and passports themselves lack physical description (height, weight, hair color, eye color) yet were amended as such on Jan. 1st 2010. More hypothetical questions: Were international musicians, both well-known and upstarts, kept outside 21+ bars/venues until set time in California prior to that? Or were international European tourists visiting Anaheim’s Disneyland and surrounding establishments denied being served alcoholic beverages on the basis of only having a foreign issued passport? I can only cast doubt at this time as I have not found anything to the effect. There were incidents, however, involving members of the U.S. military that ostensibly helped prompt reform.

*Lastly, a matricula is obtained through a process whose first step can entail providing a Mexican Consulate with a passport (the other is birth certificate). Therefore, the very matricula being rejected at the door could conceivably be a ‘bona fide’ backed form of identification!

So there you have it. With all this in hand, it is within reason to argue for the formal inclusion of the Mexican matricula into what is deemed ‘bona fide identification.’ In the meantime, card carrying youth and others know where they can and can’t go, usually through experiences of humiliation or word of mouth, and adjust their social lives accordingly. The ABC can’t make internal reforms to the Act it is tasked with overseeing. Politicians, that means the ball is in your court. Don’t choke like LeBron James of the Miami Heat in the 4th quarter of the NBA Finals.


About Gabriel San Roman