Although the check is in the bank and the pilot program to cut down on underage drinking in Throggs Neck is complete, the fight is far from over.
On Wednesday, September 15, Senator Jeff Klein presented a $10,000 check to the Throggs Neck Community Action Partnership to fund a program that offered classes and ID card scanners to 10 local alcohol-selling business.
The classes, which taught business owners and employees to spot underage kids trying to purchase alcohol, were held over the summer and the scanners were passed out during Labor Day weekend. But on Wednesday Senator Klein and members from TNCAP outlined how they will continue to fight the problem of underage drinkers.
“I think the classes were very well-received,” Frances Maturo, president of the partnership, said. “This is very important to us. We’ve been talking about this for a long time, and I think this is going to have a significant impact in reducing underage drinking rates and kids with fake IDs. We all know the tragedies.”
Recently legislation passed, introduced by the senator, that provides incentives for bars that attend the Training for Intervention Procedures. Bars that take the courses will be subject to 25 percent less civil penalties if caught selling to a minor.
The classes teach bar owners and employees ways to spot people that are under 21.
“There are things we still need to do,” Klein said. “The numbers are rising, but what you are doing, though education and tough legislation, is the best way.”
To begin with, Klein said he will work to make the classes and ID scanners mandatory at all bars or establishments that sell alcohol.
“These devices are foolproof and I think they are the way to go,” Klein told TNCAP members at the meeting. “We’re hoping with the success of this pilot program that we can make these mandatory.”
Klein said he hopes to introduce legislation soon that will toughen regulations regarding energy drinks that contain alcohol, which seem to be marketed towards teens. He suggested adding labels on the cans and throughout stores notifying people that the drinks contain both caffeine and alcohol.
He is also working to extend the Dram Shop laws, which puts liability on parents or bar owners that serve alcohol to a person already drunk. Klein wants to also punish those that make or sell fake IDs.
Under the current law, if a person under the influence of alcohol hurts anyone or damages property — for example, getting into a car accident — the establishment or person that provided the alcohol is also liable for the damage.
“That’s finally how we’re going to be able to go after these card-makers that are proliferating IDs,” he said. “We’re hoping to start work on the legislation in this upcoming season.”