DC Considers Mandatory 24 Hour Wait For tattoos
September 9, 2013

DC Considers Mandatory 24-Hour Wait Period For Tattoos

Michael Harper for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

Washington D.C.’s Department of Health is proposing a new regulation which would require a 24-hour waiting period before getting a tattoo or piercing. The changes would restrict citizens from walking into a tattoo parlor and receiving new ink on the spot, potentially damaging a parlor’s business.

The 66-page proposal mainly covers certain health regulations such as ink and needle requirements, but the 24-hour waiting period is capturing the majority of public attention so far.

Should the 24-hour law pass, citizens will first have to fill out a questionnaire before getting a tattoo or piercing. This questionnaire will ask the recipient to disclose any conditions which may affect either the outcome of the tattoo or the safety of the artist. One artist, Fatty Jessup of Fatty’s Custom Tattooz, spoke with ABC News about his thoughts on the new proposals.

"One of the cornerstones of the body art industry has been the walk-in service," said Jessup. Indeed many, if not most, parlors display some of their more common pieces available on their walls, a frequent first stop for those looking to get impromptu ink.

"By eliminating the walk-in service, you're essentially killing the business."

The rest of the proposal is ostensibly focused on the safety of the artists and the recipients alike. For instance, the regulations include mandatory hepatitis B vaccinations for all artists as well as mandatory biohazard training. The proposal also includes stricter limitations on the gloves, ink and needles used by both tattoo artists and piercers alike. The new regulations would prohibit anyone under the age of 18 from getting a tattoo and certain types of piercings. Those who are clearly under the influence of alcohol or drugs are also prohibited from getting new tattoos or piercings. Most reputable tattoo parlors, however, already voluntarily enforce this shop rule.

The proposed laws are subject to a 30-day comment period where some of the regulations could either be softened or altogether eliminated. According to a spokesperson for D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray, the mayor has “serious doubts about the regulations as proposed” and promises to take all comments into consideration before finalizing any of the regulations.

The proposed regulations are modeled after similar laws enforced in Wisconsin and come only a year after the District first began regulating their tattoo industry. Previously D.C. was one of a few places in the US without tattoo regulations in place.

Najma Roberts, a spokesperson with the D.C. Health Department said the laws are only meant to protect those on both sides of the needle.

“They can’t be responsible for themselves, as well as the person doing the work on them,” the Health Department official said in a statement to the Washington Post. "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?'"

Though some parlor owners say the 24-hour waiting period will hurt their business, others claim many people who choose tattoos have been contemplating them for months, if not years. While these people won’t be affected by the proposed regulations, those who decide they can’t wait another day could be forced to do just that.