LAKE PLACID - Owners and employees of four local bars gathered on the third floor of the Lake Placid Pub & Brewery Nov. 20 to receive early Christmas gifts from the Lake Placid-Wilmington Connecting Youth and Communities Coalition. At almost $1,100 each, the price tag was steep, but CYC officials say it was worth the investment.
Each establishment - the Lake Placid Pub & Brewery, Zig Zags, Wiseguys and Roomers - received photo ID scanners to help them catch fake IDs and weed out would-be drinkers under the legal age of 21.
"We had heard from local establishments that it was tougher to ID people," said CYC Development Director Carol Hayes. "We figured that it might be an extra tool that some of the businesses could use to help them identify possible underage drinkers."
Lake Placid-Wilmington Connecting Youth and Communities Coalition Development Director Carol Hayes, center, slides the New York state driver’s license of Lake Placid Mayor Craig Randall on one of the five new ID scanners the CYC purchased to help local bars identify underage drinkers. The CYC gave scanners to four local bars — Lake Placid Pub & Brewery, Wiseguys Sports Bar, Roomers Night Club and Zig Zags Pub — when this photo was taken Nov. 20 at the Lake Placid Pub & Brewery. From left are CYC President Mary Dietrich, Josh Spanburgh of the Lake Placid Pub & Brewery, Lisa Planty of Wiseguys, Stephen Kroha of the Lake Placid Pub & Brewery, Randall, Hayes, New York State Trooper John Moody, Robert Mullarney of Roomers, CYC Coordinator Tina Clark, David Sheffield of Zig Zags Pub and Nick Planty of Wiseguys. An extra scanner will be loaned to event coordinators who serve alcohol. (Photo by Andy Flynn)
Hayes retired two years ago as sergeant on the Lake Placid village police force after serving 22 years, giving her useful experience when it comes to helping the CYC achieve its goals. The mission of the CYC is to reduce substance abuse by youth, including the use of alcohol, marijuana and other drugs.
"The goal is to promote an environment in the communities of Lake Placid and Wilmington that develops the power and conviction to make healthy choices by encouraging a 'no use' community norm for our youth," Hayes said.
Local bar owners said they would like to have the ID scanners, but they were too expensive.
"They were trying to put money aside and save up for them, but it was cost-prohibitive," Hayes said. "By reaching our goals, we're helping them."
Lake Placid and Wilmington are resort towns filled with hotels and restaurants. Hayes recognizes that there are more establishments that serve alcohol, but the CYC chose the top four establishments most notable for their "bar crowds."
"Roomers, Wiseguys and Zig Zags are pretty much the spots for nighttime activity, and they get very, very busy," Hayes said. "The Pub and Brewery gets busy on their local nights. And sometimes it's tough when they're that busy. It's just having that extra tool to help them."
One extra ID scanner was purchased and will be kept at the CYC for use by other entities at their request at special events in the Lake Placid and Wilmington area.
The hand-held scanners, made by TokenWorks Inc., scan the IDs to make sure the names and birth dates on the card match the information attached to the card.
"Some IDs, if you try and change the birth date on the front, sometimes it's getting so good that you can do that," Hayes said. "But the ID scanner can tell you the actual date of birth in the magnetic strip or the scan code."
Information in the unit includes databases for all the U.S. states and Canadian provinces, plus military IDs. In Lake Placid, however, checking for international customers is more of a challenge, one that bar owners quickly asked Hays about when they received their units. Hayes said she's not sure whether the bar owners can add international databases to their scanners, but they should rely on the old-school methods for customers outside the U.S. and Canada.
"In some cases, they would probably look at passports," Hayes said. "At least that would be my recommendation because the international licenses are so tough to look at nowadays."
Hayes said underage drinking continues to be a national problem. It's a bigger problem in New York state and the rest of the Northeast, according to the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
Rates of underage drinking in the past month were highest in Vermont. Other states in the Northeast among the top 10 nationally with the highest rates of past-month underage alcohol use included New York Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island. New York also had one of the highest rates (15 percent) of past-month underage self-purchase of alcohol.
When she was on the local police force, Hayes said she saw underage drinking, but teens tried to avoid being caught inside the village limits.
"A lot of them were out in the fields and out in the woods, but nowadays it's going into private homes," Hayes said.
That observation reflects results from the 2012 Prevention Needs Assessment Survey in Essex County, administered by the Essex County Youth Bureau in collaboration with The Prevention TEAM. The survey was conducted in Essex County schools (grades 7-12).
One question in the survey asked, "During the past year, did you drink alcohol at any of the following places?" For grades 7-12, an average of 12.8 percent of students said yes for "restaurant, bar or night club." By grade, the results were more revealing: 6.1 percent for grade 7; 7.8 percent for grade 8; 5.4 percent for grade 9; 14.5 percent for grade 10; 16.2 percent for grade 11; and 20.6 percent for grade 12.
An average of 32 percent of students in grades 7-12 said yes to "at someone else's home with my parents' permission." An average of 37 percent said yes to "at an open area like a park, beach or back road." An average of 39 percent said yes to "at my home with my parents' permission. And an average of 70 percent said yes to "at home or someone else's home without any parent permission."
With the ID scanner program as an example, CYC officials continue to take a proactive stance in order to achieve their goals and fulfill their mission.
"Through various initiatives, including ID scanners, compliance checks and patrols, alcohol beverage server training and the Power of Parents Program, local establishments, the CYC and the law enforcement task force are all working together in taking that extra step in the prevention of underage drinking by our youth," Hayes said.
For more information on CYC programs or to request the use of an ID scanner at a special function, contact Carol Hayes at 518-523-2474 ext. 4021 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.