by Marc Kovac

Capital Bureau Chief

Columbus -- A Dayton-area lawmaker has introduced legislation that would allow soldiers to use their military-issued identification cards to prove their age when purchasing liquor.

"If this person is mature enough and old enough to fight in a war, he (should be allowed) to come home and buy a beer," Sen. Tom Roberts, D-Trotwood, told fellow members of the Agriculture Committee May 9.

Existing state law doesn't prohibit retailers from accepting military ID cards from customers, Roberts said.

But Revised Code does stipulate that permit holders relying on information from Ohio driver's licenses or state-issued identification cards (and meeting a couple of other provisions) are protected from legal consequences if they inadvertently sell to an underage citizen.

Roberts' Senate Bill 150 would add military ID's to the list of acceptable identification and includes provisions notifying retailers about the change, once enacted. He added that 25 states currently accept the cards to verify ages.

The issue was brought to the senator's attention by a constituent who, just back in town from active military service, was denied beer service at a restaurant because he had only a military ID.

Sen. Tim Grendell, R-Chesterland who said he agreed with the gist of the bill, asked whether military identification cards included holders' birth dates.

"You can be 17 and be in the military and Ohio still requires you to be 21 to drink," he said.

Sen. John Boccieri, a Democrat from New Middletown and an Air Force reserve major, produced his own ID. His birthdate was on the back.

Marc Kovac is the Dix Newspapers capital bureau chief. E-mail him at mkovac@dixcom.com.