January 29, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 34°F


Liquor Authority increasing sweeps at bars in New York State

The New York State Liquor Authority is conducting inspections at over 500 locations that hold New York State liquor licenses in order to monitor underage drinking.

Starting at the beginning of March, the New York State Liquor Authority began these increased sweeps and is planning on continuing through the end of April, according to a press release from Governor Andrew Cuomo. The state will be using “underage minor decoys” at bars, restaurants, grocery stores and other places with liquor licenses to test alcohol consumption law enforcement, according to the press release.

At Ithaca College, some students use fake IDs to purchase alcohol and go to bars in the town. Students have said they will not change their habits despite these increased sweeps.

Junior Keon Broadnax knows multiple people who use fake IDs. Broadnax said he thinks people will still use their fake IDs despite the increased surveillance.

“Everyone I know with fake IDs still goes despite warnings, from what I understand,” Broadnax said. “They just make sure to go on popular nights.”

Henry*, a junior at the college, said he has had success using a fake ID card at several bars on The Commons.

“I usually use my fake at Moonies, but I’ve had luck at other bars,” he said. “If I knew the liquor license or something were doing sweeps, I’d probably still use my fake ID.”

Kelly*, another junior at the college, said she has used a fake in the past and that it has worked at Moonies.

“I used my fake ID to go to college bars in Ithaca before I turned 21,” she said. “I was turned down by certain bars occasionally, but I never had it taken away or anything.”

Kelly also said she was always very deterred from going to the bars with a fake ID when they heard the state would be doing sweeps.

“I would never want to risk getting caught with a fake,” she said. “If I heard any rumors, I wouldn’t go.”

Jamie Williamson, public information officer at the Ithaca Police Department, said there has not been an increased appearance of the Liquor Authority in Ithaca recently.

He also said the New York State Liquor Authority requests assistance from the Ithaca Police Department to accompany them on inspections. Williamson said he believes these sweeps are effective in combating underage drinking but that the success is hard to quantify.

Christa Wyllie, who owns the Ithaca bar Silky Jones with her husband, said she is aware of these increased sweeps by the Liquor Authority. Wyllie said they have only owned the bar since the beginning of February 2017 but that she believes the bar does a good job preventing underage drinking.

“I think that we’re pretty good,” she said. “We don’t let anyone in under 21.”

She said the bar has a doorman checking IDs with a battery-operated ID checker on the weekends, and during the week, only bartenders check IDs because the bar is less busy.

Williamson said the Ithaca police do their best to monitor underage drinking but said that limited resources, including staffing and personnel shortages, often keep the police from constantly surveilling bars. He said the issue is intensified because the city of Ithaca is home to two colleges, making fake IDs more popular and harder to catch.

*Sources’ names have been changed to protect their identities.

Erin Conway can be reached at econway@ithaca.edu

Sophie Johnson can be reached at sjohnson3@ithaca.edu or via Twitter: @sophjohnson26