Two Bronx pols are taking a shot at making it harder for the borough’s minors to buy booze.
A new bill backed by Senator Jeff Klein and Assemblyman Marcos Crespo incentivizes Bronx’s booze sellers to invest in electronic scanners that test for fake IDs.
“In the 21th century, it is not acceptable for businesses not to have this technology,” Klein said at a press conference.
The verification machines, which can cost up to $800, scan the bar code on the back of an ID to test for authenticity and check that a customer is of legal drinking age, which since 1985 has been 21 years old nationwide.
Law-breaking liquor stores and groceries would have an option to purchase one of the scanners in lieu of paying their first fine. First offenses for selling booze to minors ring in as high as $3,000, and further illegal sales can cost a retailer up to $10,000 per violation.
The outcry comes on the heels of a sobering State Liquor Authority (SLA) sting operation that exposed the Bronx as the easiest place in the city for a minor to purchase alcohol. A third of the 76 licensed liquor stores and groceries charged with selling booze to minors were based in the Bronx, according to Gov. Cuomo’s office. Most of them were small grocery stores, or bodegas, licensed to sell beer but not hard alcohol.
The problem runs deeper than simply the use of fake IDs. The SLA’s underage agents bought the booze with either their real ID cards or weren’t asked for identification at all, said an SLA spokesman.
Klein and Crespo are hoping that local businesses will cooperate with what they’ve dubbed the “Card Hard” campaign. The package of laws also gives liquor sellers the legal right to confiscate fake IDs.
“This sting highlights the fact that we need to do more to dry up the source of underage drinking,” Crespo said at the Wednesday, October 23 press conference, held in front of one of the accused retailers, a Rite Aid at 1710 Crosby Avenue.
Community leaders joined the legislators in the importance of keeping alcohol away from the area’s youth.
“Those of us who are parents know that kids who use alcohol have health issues, academic problems, and are at greater risk of being perpetrators or victims of violence,” said Frances Maturo, executive director of the Throggs Neck Community Action Partnership, adding, “ We can do better.”