Elray’s Live and Dive begins using ID Scanner

Bob Franklin, the owner of the bar, implemented the use of an ID scanner in August. He said the scanner is both accurate and reliable.


Jerod Ringwald

El Rays’ Kevin Schroeck scans IDs in front of the bar on Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022. El Rays recently added a scanner to identify real IDs.

Madeleine Willis, News Reporter

Downtown Iowa City bar Elray’s Live and Dive implemented ID scanners at the beginning of August to identify underage patrons.

Bob Franklin, owner of Elray’s, said fake forms of identification pose as an obstacle for a bar in a college town.

“With technology and how many IDs these states issue, they have so many different versions. And then you’ve got a lot of people coming from a lot of different states in Iowa City with the university there,” he said. “It’s very difficult for the door guys to be able to clearly tell what’s legit and what’s not legit, so I just wanted to give them something that made it a little bit easier.”

He described the addition of the scanner as giving the people who work at the door the “right tools.”

With the growing intelligence of technology, Franklin said it is hard to tell what a real ID is versus a fake ID.

The scanner now gives Elray’s “double security,” he said.

Employees are still working the door to verify the face matches the photo on the ID. The scanner helps determine if the ID was altered or not legitimately issued by the government, he said.

The implementation at the end of the summer worked perfectly for Franklin.

“The timing was good in August, right before the fall semester when you get a big influx of people coming to town,” he said.

Lee Hermiston, City of Iowa City public safety information officer, said there are many consequences that come with underage drinking.

Infographic by Jami Martin-Trainor

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“You could face up to thousands of dollars in fines for a variety of citations including PAULA in a bar after 10, possession of fake ID. That’s going to be a pretty big financial hit,” he said.

PAULA is an acronym for possession of alcohol under the legal age. According to the 2021 Iowa City Police Department Annual Report, 101 citations were issued in the year of 2021 for under age 21 alcohol possession.

Obtaining a fictitious ID is a serious misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of $430-$2,560, according to University of Iowa Student Legal Services.

Hermiston said he hopes more bars and restaurants consider adding their own ID scanners.

“We are supportive of this technology, and we hope other establishments look into it, though we are certainly not mandating or enforcing anyone to do so,” he said.

Lauren Pettinicchio, an Iowa City resident and UI 2022 graduate, also likes the scanners at Elray’s.

Pettinicchio said she typically goes to Elray’s once every other week.

“There’s always a freshman bar, and I think that Elray’s started to become the freshman bar,” she said.

After the bar started using scanners, Pettinicchio, said the ambiance and crowd at the bar changed.

“I would assume that it’s all an older crowd now,” she said.

Pettinicchio said she wishes other bars would start using scanners like Elray’s to help catch fake IDs.

For Franklin, the scanner acts as a sort of natural deterrence to underclassmen trying to get into the bars.

“If someone is using a fake ID, they may look at the scanner and go ‘Eh, I’d rather not try that place tonight,’” he said.

Franklin said the scanner also comes with reports that tell how scanned IDs were fake. Previously, they did not keep track of entries or how many people were turned away at the door.

So far, Franklin said, the scanner has proved to be accurate and reliable.

“Let the technology determine if it’s a government issued ID or not,” he said.