Governor Andrew M. Cuomo recently announced a new record for the number of people arrested in 2017 attempting to use fake identification to buy alcoholic beverages under the legal drinking age. As part of the state’s year-round Operation Prevent initiative, investigators from the Department of Motor Vehicles and the State Liquor Authority work with state and local law enforcement agencies to conduct underage drinking and fake ID sweeps at bars, restaurants, concert venues and alcohol retailers across New York State.
This past year on Long Island, 103 people were charged for the sale of alcohol to minors and 239 were arrested for attempting to use a fake ID to purchase alcohol.
“This administration is firmly committed to helping our young people avoid making a mistake that could ruin their life and the lives of others,” Governor Cuomo said. “Underage drinking often leads to avoidable tragedies, and in order to help keep our communities safe, New York will continue to crack down on illegal behaviors in every region of the state.”
In 2017, the Department of Motor Vehicles’ investigators charged 843 people statewide with possessing fake identifications in an attempt to purchase alcoholic beverages. In addition, 171 people were cited for violations of the Alcohol Beverage Control law by drinking when they were not of legal age. In 2016, 818 individuals were charged with possessing fake identifications. In 2015, that number was 758.
In addition, the State Liquor Authority issued 1,031 penalties to licensed retailers for underage sales in 2017. The SLA also promotes compliance through the Alcohol Training Awareness Program, a training focused on reducing sales to minors and intoxicated patrons. The number of ATAP trainings completed by licensees and their staff increased from 5,803 in 2011, to 18,881 in 2017. This includes nearly 400 business owners and over 500 employees who received free ATAP training hosted by the SLA in collaboration with the Empire State Restaurant & Tavern Association as part of Governor Cuomo’s continued efforts to combat underage drinking announced in August of 2017. The total number of fake IDs seized dropped last year from 862 to 762 as fewer people were caught with multiple fake identifications and more were charged with trying to use another person’s identification.
“We will continue to work to deter underage drinking,” said Terri Egan, Executive Deputy Commissioner of the State DMV and Acting Chair of the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee. “It should not be a surprise to find our investigators checking IDs, so don’t take the risk of getting arrested by trying to buy alcohol with a fake ID or by using someone else’s identification.”
SLA Chairman Vincent Bradley said, “Keeping alcohol out of the hands of underage youth is a top priority at the New York State Liquor Authority. Under Governor Cuomo, we have significantly augmented our resources by coordinating our efforts with state agencies including DMV, OASAS and the State Police to help keep our communities safe by cracking down on these illegal sales.”
Under Governor Cuomo, the state has focused on deterring underage drinking and preventing the purchase of false identifications. On August 26, 2015 the Governor warned returning college students about the dangers of purchasing fake IDs over the Internet.
New York State Police Superintendent George P. Beach II said, “The State Police will continue to work with our partners to stop underage drinking and prevent the needless injuries and deaths it can cause. Safety is our top priority. Together we are working to discourage, detect and apprehend underage users of alcohol and most importantly, are saving lives.”
“Underage drinking is a dangerous behavior that can lead to serious health problems, including addiction later in life,” said New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services Commissioner Arlene González-Sánchez. “Underage drinking is particularly dangerous if it is combined with driving a car. I applaud Governor Cuomo for recognizing that it is not simply a mischievous rite of passage for teens and taking serious efforts to prevent it.”
Operation Prevent investigations are funded by the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee.
In 2017, DMV’s Operation Prevent was honored with an award from the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators.