Can you refuse to have your ID scanned?

Person handing over ID to be scanned

Last updated on March 19th, 2024 at 02:42 pm

Yes, in the United States, you generally have the right to refuse to have your ID scanned. The ability to refuse may depend on the specific laws, regulations, and policies of the establishment you are visiting, as well as the jurisdiction in which you are located. However, some establishments or industries may have policies in place that require ID scanning, such as for purchase of age-restricted products like cannabis, alcohol, or tobacco. These ID scanning laws are in place due to the increasing sophistication of fake IDs.

There are different scenarios in which you might encounter ID scanners. Below we will give some insight into these scenarios. 

Image of 3 ID scanners being compared

Can you refuse to have your ID scanned at a bar?

Yes, you typically have the right to refuse to have your ID scanned at a bar in the United States. While some bars may have policies in place that require ID scanning for age verifi/age-verification/cation or security purposes, you are not legally obligated to comply with such requests.

If you are uncomfortable with having your ID scanned, you can politely express your preference to the staff or management of the bar. It is recommended to communicate your concerns and ask if there are alternative methods available for verifying your age and identity, such as visual inspection of your ID or providing other forms of acceptable identification.

However, it’s important to note that while you have the right to refuse ID scanning, certain establishments may have specific policies or local regulations that require it so they may refuse entry if you do not comply.

Can you refuse to have your ID scanned at the airport?

No, you generally cannot refuse to have your ID scanned at the airport. When traveling by air, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in the United States requires passengers to present a valid form of identification for security purposes. This usually involves scanning or inspecting your ID at the airport security checkpoint.

The TSA uses ID verification as part of their security measures to confirm the identity of passengers and ensure a safe travel environment. The process is designed to prevent unauthorized individuals from boarding flights and to maintain overall security. 

Refusing to have your ID scanned at TSA will likely result in denial of entry into the secure area. 

Can you refuse to have your ID scanned by the police?

Refusing to have your ID scanned by the police may have legal implications, and it is generally not advisable to directly refuse. The laws regarding ID scanning by the police can vary depending on the jurisdiction and the specific circumstances.

In some jurisdictions, there are “stop and identify” laws (also sometimes known as search and frisk) or probable cause laws that require individuals to provide identification when requested by law enforcement in certain situations. Failure to comply with these laws can result in legal consequences. These laws don’t necessarily require that you allow your ID to be scanned, however most police offers have an ID scanner inside their cruiser, and will scan your ID to check for outstanding warrants or tickets.

Can you refuse to have your ID scanned at a dispensary?

The ability to refuse to have your ID scanned at a dispensary may depend on the specific laws, regulations, and policies in the jurisdiction where the dispensary is located. In states where cannabis is legalized for medical or recreational use, dispensaries often have specific requirements for age verification and compliance with state laws. States such as Nevada, Missouri, New Jersey, and Illinois all require ID scanning for dispensary entrance or purchase, so in this instance you must consent to having your ID scanned in order to complete the transaction. Some dispensaries may have policies in place, outside of state laws, that mandate ID scanning as part of their procedures. In such cases, refusing to have your ID scanned may result in the dispensary denying you entry or service.

However, not all dispensaries have the same policies, and alternative methods for age verification may be available. Some dispensaries may employ visual inspection of IDs instead of scanning. It is advisable to communicate your concerns to the staff or management of the dispensary and inquire about their specific procedures for age verification if you prefer not to have your ID scanned. If they do require scanning you can always request that any data parsed from your ID be deleted from the dispensary’s systems.

Can you refuse to have your ID scanned at a casino?

Most casinos do not scan IDs at entrance, and there are no laws restricting minors from being present in a casino space. For those that do maintain an age-restricted space, many require ID scanning and will not allow for manual inspection of IDs simply due to the large volume of customers entering at any given time.

For jackpots over $1,200, winners need to request and complete a form W-2G. At this time the casino must verify the identity of the individual. The winner must present two forms of identification, including at lease one photo ID. Although scanning of the ID is not part of the law, almost all casinos utilize a commercial ID scanner so that they can run the individual’s information against casino banned lists and self exclusion lists, as well as their own internal blacklists of banned players.

Can you refuse to have your ID scanned at a restaurant?

Restaurants that serve alcohol have a responsibility to verify the age of their patrons to comply with liquor licensing regulations and laws related to the sale and service of alcohol.

In some jurisdictions, restaurants may have the option to scan IDs as a method of age verification. At least one jurisdiction (Utah) requires ID scanning for some alcohol purchases, but ID scanning for the sale of alcohol in food service establishments is uncommon nationally.

While you may have the right to refuse to have your ID scanned, it’s important to understand that the restaurant may have its own policies and procedures in place to ensure compliance with the law. If you have concerns or preferences regarding the method of age verification, it is advisable to communicate with the staff or management of the restaurant and inquire about alternative options they may offer.

Stay informed 

It is advisable to familiarize yourself with the laws and regulations in your specific state or local jurisdiction to better understand your rights and the requirements of the establishment you are visiting. It never hurts to request a visual inspection of your ID in lieu of having your ID scanned, but there are no laws in place that protect your right to forgo ID scanning. In some cases, requesting a visual inspection may arouse suspicion or lead to you being denied service. In cases of government interaction, such as with law enforcement or airports, there may not be any option to select visual inspection.

If your concern is about retention of PII from a scanned ID, you can always contact the establishment to request that they delete your record in their file. There are broad consumer privacy protections in most state that will force any business to comply.