Governor Cuomo Announces Continued Efforts To Combat Underage Drinking This Fall

SLA and DMV Partner to Conduct Underage Operations in College Towns.

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Photo by: Alexas_Fotos

Albany, NY - August 23, 2017 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a coordinated effort by state agencies to crack down on underage drinking on college campuses and in college towns as the fall semester begins. The New York State Liquor Authority and the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, along with local law enforcement agencies, will conduct statewide sweeps of locations holding liquor licenses, including bars, restaurants, liquor stores and grocery stores, looking for fake IDs and illegal sales to minors.
"State and local law enforcement are taking proactive measures to deter underage drinking and hopefully prevent the dangerous and potentially life-altering consequences that can come with it," Governor Cuomo said.  "As the new college semester begins, this crackdown will help put an end to underage drinking and hold accountable those who enable it."
The combined enforcement effort will begin immediately as college students return to campus for the fall semester. The enforcement sweeps build upon the Governor's successful safety initiatives to deter underage drinking and prevent the purchase and use of false identification documents. The enhanced sweeps targeting college communities supplement the SLA and DMV's regular underage enforcement efforts conducted statewide throughout the year. 
In December 2016, Governor Cuomo announced that similar underage drinking sweeps resulted in the seizure of 862 fraudulent licenses and the arrest of 818 individuals, both single year records. In May 2017, the Governor announced results of underage sweeps conducted in the spring, with SLA underage decoys visiting 647 establishments resulting in 184 licensees charged with selling to minors, while DMV enforcement investigators confiscated 127 fake IDs and netted 112 arrests of persons under 21 attempting to purchase alcohol.
Persons under the age of 21 found to be using fake IDs or false documents with the intent of purchasing alcohol can be arrested and have their license revoked for a minimum of 90 days or up to one year. Additionally, businesses charged by the SLA with underage sales face civil penalties of up to $10,000 per violation. Repeat offenders also face potential suspension or revocation of their licenses.
"Preventing the sale of alcohol to minors is a priority for the State Liquor Authority and we will continue working with the DMV and local law enforcement to reduce incidences of underage drinking and the use of fake IDs," said SLA Chairman Vincent Bradley. "Licensees are reminded to make a concerted effort to ensure they are not selling to minors, including taking the simple and straightforward step of checking the ID of anyone that might be underage."
"Underage drinking presents a clear danger to students on college campuses throughout New York State," said DMV Executive Deputy Commissioner and GTSC Acting Chair Terri Egan. "DMV continues to work with local and statewide law enforcement officials to alert students to the effects of underage drinking and the penalties that can occur. We applaud Governor Cuomo in his efforts to educate students on the importance of safety in our communities, while enforcing the laws to deter underage drinking."
"Underage drinking can have lifelong consequences and lead to future substance use disorders," said New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services Commissioner Arlene González-Sánchez. "Crackdowns like this are valuable prevention tools in the battle against addiction."
The SLA continues to aggressively enforce underage drinking laws and provide education and training to licensees. In 2016, the SLA issued 1,077 penalties to licensed retailers for underage sales. The SLA also increased the number of trainings to reduce underage sales by certifying and promoting the Alcohol Training Awareness Program. Over 500 business owners and more than 750 employees have received free ATAP training hosted by the SLA in collaboration with the Empire State Restaurant & Tavern Association, as part of the Governor's coordinated effort to combat underage drinking.
This fall, the SLA and the ESRTA will continue hosting a series of free trainings in Buffalo, Utica, Binghamton, Syracuse and Tarrytown. 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 underage persons.
Research shows that each year, nationwide:
  • More than 1,800 college students die from alcohol-related injuries;
  • 696,000 college students are assaulted by another student that has been drinking; and
  • 97,000 college students experience alcohol-related sexual assault.
Additionally, NYS OASAS reports:
  • Drinking alcohol before age 21 can interfere with brain development, causing potential learning difficulties well into the early 20s, and
  • Early alcohol use is associated with poor grades, absenteeism and higher school dropout rates.