Fake IDs

A pile of confiscated fake IDs. 

A record number of fake identifications was confiscated in 2018 by law enforcement agencies and New York state investigators. 

Through Operation Prevent, a year-round initiative funded by the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee to crack down on underage drinking, the state seized 892 fake driver's licenses and other documents last year. It beats the previous record of 814 seizures in 2017. 

State authorities ticketed 922 people for using false identification or using another person's ID, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office. The number of people ticketed for using fake IDs increased from 843 in 2017. 

The most arrests and fake IDs seized were in western New York. There were 394 arrests for using a fake ID and 335 documents were confiscated. There were 148 arrests and 144 IDs seized in the Mid-Hudson Valley. 

In the Capital Region, 115 arrests were made and authorities seized 138 fake IDs. Investigators arrested 98 people and found 92 fake IDs in the Finger Lakes region. There were 90 arrests and 108 IDs confiscated on Long Island. 

There were 55 arrests and 55 fake IDs seized in central New York. Eighteen arrests and 18 IDs were confiscated in the Southern Tier. 

The North Country reported the lowest number — four and two, respectively — of arrests and IDs taken by police. 

"It goes without saying that New York state has absolutely zero tolerance for underage drinking, and last year's record number of fake ID seizures demonstrates once again that we are deadly serious about tackling this issue," Cuomo said in a statement. 

The initiative targeting underage drinking also led to penalties against alcohol retailers. The State Liquor Authority issued 1,087 penalties in 2018. 

New technology is being used to check IDs and prevent underage drinking, especially at large venues. Department of Motor Vehicles investigators use a mobile computer to accelerate the processing of tickets. The agency also works with law enforcement to determine where to best dedicate resources for enforcement. 

"We work very hard to send the message to young people to not drink until they are of the appropriate legal age," said Mark Schroeder, acting commissioner of the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee. "We want to prevent tragedies. The public should be aware that our investigators are out checking for fake identifications, and people risk arrest if they try to use one." 

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Online producer Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or robert.harding@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.