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D.C. Drops Proposed 24-Hour Waiting Period For Tattoos And Piercings

In September, D.C. officials proposed a 24-hour waiting period for tattoos and piercings.
In September, D.C. officials proposed a 24-hour waiting period for tattoos and piercings.

The D.C. Department of Health is dropping a controversial proposal to establish a waiting period for adults who want to get a tattoo.

D.C. officials had originally defended the 24-hour cooling off period for anyone wanting a tattoo or piercing in the District as a way to protect consumers, especially those who made the decision to ink or pierce themselves while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

This portion of the proposed rules, which were rolled out in September, to regulate what has been an unregulated industry in D.C. touched off a firestorm of protest by tattoo parlor owners and patrons. They accused city officials of becoming super nannies and trying to fix a problem that didn't exist.

They argued licensed parlors already turn away customers under the influence, and the waiting period would drive customers to Virginia or Maryland.

Health officials explained the reversal, first reported by The Washington Post, by saying they prefer to focus on health and safety of customers. Final regulations are being drafted now.

The proposed regulations also included a prohibition on tattoos for customers believed to have a communicable disease like HIV or AIDS, a provision that would have violated federal law. It's unclear if that provision will remain in a new version of the rules.


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