New York issued a record number of tickets and seized hundreds of IDs as part of the state's underage drinking enforcement initiative in 2019.
There were 1,016 tickets issued — up from 922 in 2018 — to underage people who attempted to buy alcoholic beverages. The number of fake licenses and IDs seized increased from 892 in 2018 to 918 last year, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office.
A regional breakdown provided by Cuomo's office shows there were 325 tickets issued and 269 fake IDs seized in the Finger Lakes region — the most of any region in New York. Central New York had the second-highest number of tickets issued with 213.
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The state Department of Motor Vehicles led Operation Prevent, which is a year-round effort to combat underage drinking. The initiative focuses on the sale of alcohol to minors at bars, concert venues, restaurants and other retailers.
DMV investigators executed sweeps at 127 locations across New York in 2019. The state Liquor Authority also participated in the crackdown, which led to 480 charges for selling alcohol to minors.
Individuals who are under age 21 and found to be in possession of false documents with the intent of purchasing alcohol can be ticketed and have their license suspended for at least 90 days or up to one year.
Businesses charged with selling alcohol to underage customers could face civil penalties of up to $10,000 per violation. Repeat offenders could have their liquor licenses suspended or revoked. Employees who sell to minors can be arrested and charged with a misdemeanor.
"Underage drinking is a serious and dangerous offense that will not be tolerated," Cuomo said. "These record numbers underscore our strong commitment to cracking down on underage drinking and holding those who enable it accountable."
Online producer Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.