NPPD Cracks Down on Underage Drinking

All of 16 defendants charged on Saturday, March 11 are expected to reappear in New Paltz Court later this month. Photo by Matt Nash.

The prevalence of underage drinking and the pos- session of fake identi cation in New Paltz forces law enforcement to find innovative means of preventing a continuation of this trend.

As a direct result of New York State Department of Motor Vehicles’ initiative, Operation Prevent, statewide investigations are underway with the intent to deter underage drinking and keep roadways safe.

During these investigations, DMV investigators work with state and local law enforcement agencies to survey identication of bar patrons and concert goers. Individuals under the age of 21 using fake IDs or false documents with the intent to purchase alcohol can be arrested and have their license revoked for a minimum of 90 days or up to one year.

This past December, Gov. Andrew Cuomo an- nounced that sweeps conducted by DMV investigators in 2016 resulted in the seizure of 862 fraudulent licenses and the arrest of 818 individuals for underage drinking, both single year records.

On Saturday, March 11 the New Paltz Police Department (NPPD) made over 16 arrests involving the possession of a forged license or underage drinking. The department conducted this search with the Investigators at the Department of Motor Vehicles of New York. The course of detail involved the searching of approximately 150 subjects in open bars located in both the town and village.

New Paltz Police Chief Joe Snyder explained that, being near a college, there is a large amount of young people wanting to visit the town and bars.

“I think towns that have a college or young population experience issues with underage drinking,” he said.

Violators of the law are left solely responsible for obtaining fake identification and establishments are provided with the resources to abide by the law, Snyder explains.

“IDs can be difficult to determine as fake. Some are such a good quality that if you have a scanner, they will scan valid and of age,” he said. “Sometimes the only way we can con rm they are fake is by running through the state that they are issued and if it shows not on file, we know they are fake.”

Snyder contested that the law requires servers of alcohol to make a reasonable effort. If the establishment is provided with a bad ID or someone is using the ID of someone else and which is clearly different, then officers may charge the server or estab- lishment as well.

“We don’t like to punish an establishment if they are making an effort and someone is abusing the system with a fake ID,” he said.

The NPPD remains communicative with intown establishments in the hopes of keeping owners informed and providing them with the resources to keep underage citizens out. This communication includes quarterly tavern owner meetings that become more frequent depending whether the department sees an increasing issue.

Along with the meetings, servers of alcohol are offered training for intervention procedures. This course covers several aspects of serving alcohol responsibly: how to identify problem or underage drinkers, identify behavior cues for signs of intoxication and how to properly check for underage IDs.

University Police Chief David Dugatkin admitted that while there is certainly an issue in town, the UPD does not see this issue often.

“While our department does not encounter that problem often on campus, we will continue to enforce all of the laws of the state,” Dugatkin said. “If we encounter those who have a driver’s license of another person, or a driver’s license listing the wrong age, there will be repercussions,” Dugatkin said.

Dugatkin explained that having a fake driver’s license with a false birth date will receive a heftier penalty than obtaining one with a false persona.

Dugatkin also noted that the UPD keeps a very open line of communication with the town police department.

“If they need our assistance regarding students, we will go and help them,” he said. “Otherwise, we are made aware of students who have been apprehended shortly after the arrest.”