DC Proposes 24-Hour Waiting Period for ... Tattoos

District health department says it will protect customers

By Ruth Brown,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 7, 2013 3:33 PM CDT

(Newser) – Waiting periods: They're not just for guns anymore. In DC, the health department is pushing to add a mandatory 24-hour waiting period for tattoos and piercings, the Washington Post reports. A department official says the proposal—part of a larger package of industry reforms which includes a ban on non-ear piercings for under-18s—is intended to help protect consumers. "They can’t be responsible for themselves, as well as the person doing the work on them," she says. "We’re making sure when that decision is made that you’re in the right frame of mind, and you don’t wake up in the morning ... saying, 'Oh my God, what happened?'"

DC's mayor says he has "serious doubts about the regulations as proposed." Local tattoo artists have their doubts, too. It's "honestly ridiculous," says artist Paul Roe. "Why not 24 hours' waiting time before shaving your head?" For many shops, walk-ins account for a significant percentage of customers, so their bottom line could take a big hit. A DC Council member says she doesn't think tattoo shop employees would be able to tell if a walk-in was under the influence of alcohol or not. But Roe says he turns away drunk customers all the time, and a better rule would be to regulate that, rather than punish sober adults and stores. "Simple regulation is effective regulation," he says. "Overregulation will kill the profession and drive it underground and make it less safe for everybody."

Lindsay Gray gets a tattoo from tattoo artist Scott Sprouse at Wild Bills Tattoos in Roseville, Calif.   (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
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