Governor Andrew M. Cuomo Wednesday announced the results of joint efforts by the State Liquor Authority and the Department of Motor Vehicles to combat underage drinking.
During this enforcement effort in the months of August, September and October, SLA sent underage decoys to 506 establishments, citing 141 for illegal sales to minors. In addition, DMV investigators arrested 271 people under the age of 21 attempting to use false identification to purchase alcohol.
"Underage drinking can lead to bad decisions and dangerous situations that can have lifelong consequences or needless tragedy," Governor Cuomo said. "Through on-going enforcement efforts, we will continue to crack down on this dangerous behavior and target businesses that break the law by selling to minors and underage adults."
The SLA conducted 41 underage details in 30 counties, with investigators sending underage decoys into 506 locations holding liquor licenses, including restaurants, bars, grocery stores, convenience stores and liquor stores.
The decoys were able to purchase alcohol at 141 businesses. Locally, they included the Crosby's on North Main Street in Wellsville, Bolivar Spirits and Wine, Finger Lakes Wine and Spirits in Bath, the Rite Aid Pharmacy of West Washington Street in Bath, and Carney's at 22 North Main Street in Castile.
A total of 365 businesses refused to sell to underage decoys.
In Allegany County, they included Story Block Liquor in Cuba, Park Plaza Liquor in Wellsville, Crosby's in Cuba, South Street Mart in Cuba, Corsby's in Bolivar, Short's in Wellsville, Sunoco A Plus in Wellsville, Giant Food Mart in Wellsville, Steve's Gas N Grub in Andover, The Village Pub in Andover, and Hamars Pub in Wellsville.
In Steuben County, the list included Maple City Bowl of Hornell, Save A Lot in Bath, Kwik Fill in Bath, Tops Markets in Bath, One Stop Mini Mart in Bath, Kwik Food in Hornell, Michael John's Corner Convenience in Hornell, Walgreens in Bath, and Maple City Discout Liquors and Wines of Hornell, and Crosby's of Castile.
During the investigations, SLA investigators entered the licensed premises separately from the undercover minor to observe and verify when illegal transactions occurred. Licensees charged by the SLA with underage sales face civil penalties of up to $10,000 per violation, with fines starting from $2,500 to $3,000 for a first-time offense. Repeat offenders also face potential suspension or revocation of their licenses.
DMV investigators made the following arrests for use of fake IDs:
Capital Region - 31 arrests
9 arrests during the Luke Bryan concert at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC)
2 arrests at the Kid Rock concert with Brantley Gilbert at SPAC
8 arrests at the Zac Brown concert at SPAC
12 arrests at the Varsity Lounge in Albany
Central New York - 21 arrests
2 arrests at the Luke Bryan concert at the Lakeview Amphitheater
2 arrests at the Kid Rock concert at the St. Joseph's Health Amphitheater at Lakeview in Geddes
17 arrests at The Red Jug, The Dark Horse Saloon, and Harry Tony's, all in Cortland
Finger Lakes - 91 arrests
13 arrests at the Dierks Bentley concert at the Darien Lake concert facility
34 arrests at the Jason Aldean concert at Darien Lake
7 arrests during an investigation at One Nightclub and Vinyl in Rochester.
18 arrests at the G-Eazy concert at Darien Lake
6 arrests at Somerton's Public House and Dragonfly Tavern in Rochester
13 arrests at The Red Jug Pub and Stone Yard Brewing Company in Brockport
Long Island - 36 arrests
14 arrests at the Brad Paisley concert at the Jones Beach Theater
22 arrests at the Billboard Hot 100 concert at Jones Beach
Southern Tier - 44 arrests
44 arrests at Moonies Tavern and Silky Jones Bar, both in Ithaca
Western New York - 48 arrests
24 arrests at The Steer and the Main Place Bar in Buffalo
24 arrests at Old Main Inn, Sunny's Bar and Muldoons, all in Fredonia
The fake identifications seized during these arrests were from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Maryland, Delaware, California, Ohio, Illinois, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia and Florida.
The crackdown is part of Operation Prevent, a DMV initiative conducted all year long that targets not only bars and drinking establishments, but concerts, events and other underage hot spots. During an Operation Prevent sting, DMV investigators work with the SLA and law enforcement to check identification documents. Patrons found to be using fake IDs can be arrested and have their license revoked for a minimum of 90 days or up to one year.
Vincent G. Bradley, Chairman of the New York State Liquor Authority, said, "Preventing the sale of alcohol to minors remains a priority for the SLA. These large-scale enforcement efforts with our partners at the DMV and local law enforcement will continue to be part of our proactive measures to prevent alcohol abuse among our youth."
Terri Egan, DMV Executive Deputy Commissioner and Acting Chair of the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee, said, "If you acquire a fake identification, it doesn't matter what state it appears to be from. Our investigators will quickly be able to spot the fraud, and you will be arrested. We want our young people who are not yet 21 to celebrate responsibly. They shouldn't try to buy alcohol. And if they try to use a fake ID or someone else's ID to purchase alcohol they need to be aware that it's a crime we take seriously."
In addition to aggressively enforcing underage drinking laws, the SLA continues to promote education and training for licensees to avoid violations. This fall, the SLA and the Empire State Restaurant & Tavern Association are again hosting a series of free compliance trainings throughout the state. Trainings began on October 29th in Buffalo, with additional seminars planned in Canandaigua, Melville, Nanuet, Lake Placid, Syracuse and in Dryden. These day-long programs for bar, restaurant and tavern owners and their staff focus on the legal responsibilities of selling alcohol and provide training in practical skills to help licensees and their employees fulfill their legal responsibilities, including preventing sales to minors.