City Obtains 6 ID Scanners to Curb Underage Drinking
December 12, 2018
In an effort to reduce underage drinking, several local alcohol retail outlets have partnered with the Valley CARE Coalition to incorporate portable electronic identification scanners for use when verifying a customer’s age for the purchase of alcohol. The substance abuse prevention specialist working with the Glasgow Police Department (GPD) was approached by the owner of a local alcohol retailer who voiced concerns about gaining retail compliance with the age of service regulations. While attending festivals and events in other communities and states, the owner had noticed the presence of electronic ID scanners in use combined with strict alcohol sales and service policies that guided the regulations regarding alcohol sales.
According to the 2016 Montana Prevention Needs Assessment Profile Report for Valley County, 13.6 percent of 12th-grade students who drank reported they purchased their alcohol with or without a fake identification. This is an increase of 9.6 percent since 2014. Also, local alcohol compliance check rates have shown an average of 21.2 percent of retailers failing their checks since 2016. With the statistics rapidly on the rise, the prevention specialist with the GPD knew an intervention was needed to take place to curb this trend.
With funding from the Partnership for Success grant through the GPD, six scanners were purchased and will be distributed to bars and restaurants in Glasgow. The benefits to these scanners are two-fold; first, there may be a detection effect since the scanner will make it easier to recognize a fake ID, and second, there may be a deterrent effect as scanners may deter underage youth from attempting to purchase alcohol. They also provide an affirmative defense for retailers in underage sales prosecutions if they can prove that their equipment was used properly. Combined with a strong alcohol policy for establishments to abide by, this technology offers much needed and requested assistance.
There is one caveat to a bar receiving this ID scanner to use, they must work to develop an alcohol sales and service policy for their establishment. A policy will include additional measures that regulate staff behavior when serving and selling alcohol, including reinforcing Montana laws against underage sales and over-service of alcohol. The policy will detail how staff should deal with minors attempting to purchase alcohol, how to check identifications, when to contact law enforcement, and how to refuse service to someone over 21 who may be buying alcohol for someone underage, also known as secondary selling. The alcohol retailers will work with the prevention specialist to include any and all regulations requested in their policy, which will be implemented and followed by all employees of that establishment.
One establishment, The Wood at the Cottonwood Inn, has been on the forefront of this positive community change for several years. The bar manager, Zack Burner, has been trained and offers the Department of Revenue’s Let’s Control It! alcohol sales and service training in the community on a quarterly basis. He also worked with prevention specialists to implement an alcohol sales policy for his staff. “This is a positive move for bars in Glasgow. We can be proactive in preventing underage drinking with these scanners and set an example for other businesses in the area,” said Burner.
Additionally, these scanners and policies are meant to assist special event organizers and groups serving alcohol under a special permit in preventing underage drinking and make the job of checking IDs easier for event staff. Preventing underage drinking is truly a community effort, and this is one additional step towards reducing underage alcohol consumption.
To learn more about the many health promotion and positive activities the Valley CARE Coalition is involved in, contact Prevention Specialist Jennifer Fuller at [email protected]