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Throggs Neck bars armed with ID scanners

MAX MITCHELL

Underage kids should think again the next time they ask for alcohol at a Throggs Neck business.

On Saturday, September 4, Senator Jeff Klein passed out identification card scanners to owners of ten Throggs Neck bars that recently attended a workshop aimed at teaching them to pick out underage drinkers.

“Underage drinking is a problem we see time and time again,” Klein said to the business owners before he passed out the devices. “This is a very important public and private partnership to ensure kids aren’t getting alcohol. We are trying to do everything we can to rub out underage drinking and we need a comprehensive approach.”

Recent statistics show that in New York state about 34 percent of high schoolers have consumed alcohol, and 40 percent said they had knowingly gotten into a car with a driver that was under the influence.

Making it more difficult for teens to get alcohol should significantly curb those figures, Klein said.

“Take the recent incident where the young woman fell to her death,” he said, referring to the 17-year-old daughter of a U.S. diplomat who fell after drinking at a Manhattan nightclub last month. “If that establishment had scanned her ID, it would not have happened.”

The hand-held scanners can determine whether a card is a valid, and whether or not the person is 21 or older. The devices typically retail between $500 and $800.

“We bought a scanner a few years ago and it has really helped stop kids from drinking illegally,” said Kathy Gallagher, manager at the Wicked Wolf, where the event was held. “We had a problem for a while, but this really helped out.”

In June, Gallagher and other restaurant owners and managers were entered in a raffle to win the scanners once they completed a course that went over the laws regarding underage drinking, and offered tips about how to spot people younger than 21.

As part of a newly passed law, which was proposed by Klein last year, the businesses that participated in the workshop will also be subject to 25 percent less civil penalties if they are caught selling to anyone underage.

“As management we know what to do, but the class really helped our bartenders, waitresses and staff,” said Melissa Liebman, manager at Tosca’s Restaurant. “This really helped them to open their eyes to the problem.”

For Loredana Altieri, owner of Grapevine & Spirits, the best part of the class was trying to guess ages of people by looking at their photos.

“It’s a lot harder than you might think. A lot of people look 25 or 26, but they’re really 17 or 18,” she said. “Now my stance is if you look under 40, I’m going to ask for your ID.”

“It’s great now that we’ve got these scanners too,” she continued, “especially when it comes to out-of-state IDs.

You don’t know what each different state’s ID looks like, so this will help a lot.”

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