CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)- Businesses and the City of Charleston are joining together to launch a pilot program to crackdown on underage drinking with the help of Intellicheck and Explore Charleston.
The program costs 40,000 dollars, lasts six months and is a partnership with the ID scanner company Intellicheck.
There are 31 spaces for participating businesses in the program and 27 of them have been filled by November 30. The start date is December 5.
“It’s an opportunity for us to keep people safe which is what we want to do. The mayor said it, it’s a public safety issue. Underage drinking is a problem in our society,” said Keith Benjamin, a partner of Uptown Hospitality Group.
“It’s real easy. It’s real quick. It doesn’t slow you down in the line. The business owners have the responsibility to make sure that they’re serving people who are of age,” said Roy Neal, the owner of El Jefe Restaurant.
Both Benjamin and Neal are taking part in the pilot program. Neal brought the idea to Charleston City Council in August where it gained support from council members.
“We’ve got a high concentration of bars and late night establishments. We want to see if we can get the product in people’s hands, get them used to it and see how it will work to do the things that we really want to do in the city. That is make our city safe, inviting and hospitable,” said Councilmember Mike Seekings.
Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg says that the ID scanner pilot program fits into a larger plan for safety on King Street.
“Traffic enforcement to lane closures to lighting to the ID checks it all fits together to help make Charleston a safer place,” said Mayor Tecklenburg.
Safety is a word that Charleston Police Department Chief Luther Reynolds is emphasizing as the holiday season continues. The pilot program will start at a crucial time in the middle of the holidays that Reynolds thinks can prevent alcohol related incidents.
“If we save one life, if we help somebody from being injured, if we protect people then it’s all worth it. It’s a great product. It’s a great partnership,” said Chief Reynolds.
Another safety issue was raised by Intellicheck CEO Bryan Lewis at the unveiling. After people send personal information overseas it can get resold and used for identity theft.
“People can buy your personally identifiable information online. Then they use that, a photo, a fake ID,” said Lewis. “Now they own your identity.”
The College of Charleston’s Police Department backs up what Lewis says and dissuades students from buying fake IDs because of identity theft and the legal consequences when trying to use one at a bar.
“If we’re reducing that then we’re actually helping the college students as well not to mention reducing underage drinking,” said Captain Peter Russell.