ALBANY — Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has announced a statewide effort to crack down on underage drinking during the month of October.
The New York State Liquor Authority and the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, along with local law enforcement agencies, will conduct underage drinking checks at licensed retailers suspected of selling alcohol to minors, including bars, restaurants, liquor stores and grocery stores. The SLA will visit 500 locations, assisted at some locations by DMV investigators and at others by local law enforcement.
"I am proud of the work our State agencies and law enforcement officials have done to protect New York's youth from the dangers of underage drinking," Governor Cuomo said. "These continued statewide enforcement sweeps add to our success in keeping our roadways safe, protecting our youth and holding those who enable underage drinking responsible."
The enforcement sweeps build upon the successful Operation Prevent campaign, an ongoing initiative conducted throughout the year to deter underage drinking and prevent the use of fake IDs.
Since mid-June of this year, over 400 people have been ticketed during Operation Prevent enforcement sweeps conducted at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in the Capital Region, Darien Lake concert facility in Western New York, CMAC in the Finger Lakes, the St. Joseph's Health Amphitheater at Lakeview in Central New York, and Jones Beach Theater on Long Island.
Fake IDs made to look like they are from New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maryland, Delaware, Rhode Island, Ohio, Maine, Tennessee, Kentucky, New Jersey, Texas, Georgia, South Carolina, Indiana and Alberta, Canada were seized.
Persons under the age of 21 found to be using fake IDs or false documents with the intent of purchasing alcohol can be ticketed and have their license suspended or revoked for a minimum of 90 days or up to one year. Additionally, businesses charged by the State Liquor Authority with underage sales face civil penalties of up to $10,000 per violation, and repeat offenders also face potential suspension or revocation of their liquor licenses. Additionally, employees or licensees who sell to minors can be arrested and charged with a misdemeanor.
State Liquor Authority Chairman Vincent Bradley said, "The State Liquor Authority takes our responsibility of making sure licensees are following the law very seriously. These crackdowns under Governor Cuomo send a message that enabling underage drinking, whether through sale of alcohol to minors or purchasing fake IDs, will not be tolerated in New York State."
Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Mark J.F. Schroeder said, "Underage drinking is dangerous and can cost much more than the price of a fake ID. I urge all young New Yorkers to think twice before wasting their money on a phony ID and choosing to drink before they are of age. Those decisions could have life-long consequences, and no matter how good you think your fake ID looks, our experienced investigators have the equipment and training to quickly spot a fraud."
On May 15, Governor Cuomo announced that during underage drinking sweeps conducted in April 2019, the State Liquor Authority conducted 66 underage details in 46 counties, with investigators sending underage decoys into 851 locations holding liquor licenses. The decoys were able to purchase alcohol at 186 of the 851 businesses.
NYS OASAS reports:
Drinking alcohol before age 21 can interfere with brain development, causing potential learning difficulties well into the early 20s; and early alcohol use is associated with poor grades, absenteeism and higher school dropout rates.
New Yorkers struggling with an addiction, or whose loved ones are struggling, can find help and hope by calling the state's toll-free, 24-hour, 7-day-a-week HOPEline at 1-877-8-HOPENY (1-877-846-7369) or by texting HOPENY (Short Code 467369)