NEWPORT, R.I. (WPRI) — While some may try their luck with a fake ID at bars and liquor stores in Newport this weekend, the city’s police department is using technology to crack down on underage drinking.
Officers will be equipped with an app that can detect a fake ID with the push of a button.
“It will take a picture of the barcode on the back of the ID,” Sgt. Jason Head explained. “This app works with DMVs across the country for the exact coding that they put in there that is specific to that, so it will come back within about two seconds whether or not that ID is fake, fraudulently made. It will let you know even if it’s expired.”
During last year’s parade, three of the arrests made for open container violations were minors, according to police. Sgt. Head said that while Saturday’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade may tempt underage drinkers, police will be working to make sure it’s a safe event.
“It’s dangerous for anybody to overdrink, but especially anybody who is underage,” he said. “The consequences can be bad.”
Underage drinking can be an arrestable offense, with the potential for a municipal fine for possessing an alcoholic beverage or a fake ID. Sgt. Head said that even though their ID scanners won’t solve every problem that bars could encounter, they’ll help prevent those types of issues.
“[Bars] like having that extra line of defense or risk the liability of having an underage drinker in their establishment,” he added.
The new scanners won’t just be used for the parade. Sgt. Head said bars and liquor stores will be able to request this system going forward.