October 18, 2001
State officials today announced a new tool to help reduce underage drinking.
Starting this weekend alcohol and tobacco outlets can call 1-866-ITS-FAKE (1-866-487-3253) to reach a trained dispatcher who will confirm whether a driver's license presented as identification exists (or not) in any state in the United States.
"This is a tool to help retailers verify legitimate licenses and detect false licenses," said Liquor Control Commissioner Michael Hogan. "This initiative has various agencies working in concert to identify those individuals who use fake identification to purchase alcohol and tobacco."
"We Check ID" is a collaboration between the Vermont departments of Liquor Control, Health, and Motor Vehicles, along with the Vermont Grocers' Association, Vermont Lodging and Restaurant Association, S.T.A.R.T., Rutland County Sheriff's Department, and Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
The most common form of false identification in Vermont is a driver's license with an altered date of birth. To date, the "We Check ID" program has been up and running on a limited pilot basis for five weekends. 28% of the 25 inquiries received during the pilot period were reported back as either fraudulent or suspicious in nature.
"Communities and coalitions throughout Vermont are working very hard to reduce underage drinking and smoking," said Dr. Jan Carney, Vermont's health commissioner. "This program will make it easier for retailers in all Vermont communities to check IDs and help reduce youth access to alcohol and tobacco products."
"We at Rasputin's found the new 1-800 call ID system to be an effective user-friendly tool and deterrent against those who present fake IDs," said Scott LeCouts, owner of Rasputin's in Burlington. "The fact that the establishment can get an immediate response on the validity of the identification rather than having to locate a police officer or liquor investigator makes it a lot more efficient."
"Pearl Street Beverage is extremely busy this time of year and sees many fake IDs," stated owner John Dubie. "As many tools as we can have to combat it and protect ourselves the better, so I'm all for it."
"Licensees have an important job in preventing alcohol and tobacco from being sold to minors," said Jim Harrison, President of the Vermont Grocers' Association. "The We Check ID program is one more tool to help retailers, restaurants, and bars verify questionable forms of identification."
"This program is an excellent tool for restaurants and bars to use," said Kathy Sweeten from the Vermont Lodging and Restaurant Association. "It helps them during their busiest times and works to prevent the sale of alcohol to minors."
"1-866-ITS-FAKE is the first time a statewide approach of this kind has been used in an effort to combat underage drinking and the use of false identification. If the program works as well as we hope it will, we feel that this will become a national demonstration project and will be replicated elsewhere throughout the United States," said John D'Esposito, Vermont Department of Liquor Control Investigator.
"The program is being marketed to retailers through a variety of methods: by direct delivery of materials by liquor investigators and other police officers to stores, restaurants, and bars, by liquor investigators in regional education programs that happen routinely throughout Vermont, and by offering specialized programs at conferences such as the Vermont Grocers' Association, the Vermont Liquor Brokers Association, and the Vermont Lodging and Restaurant Association."
For further information you may contact:
Enforcement and Licensing Division
Vermont Department of Liquor Control
13 Green Mountain Drive
Montpelier, VT 05602
1-802-828-2339 / 1-800-832-2339
Note: Effective June 1, 2003, this program is now available Monday through Saturday 2:00pm to 2:00am. On Sunday this service is available 2:00pm to 8:00pm.