Arizona Using Smartphone App To Stop Underage Drinkers

Published: Wednesday, July 31, 2019 - 5:05am
Updated: Wednesday, July 31, 2019 - 9:16am
The Age ID smartphone app can help law enforcement authenticate driver's licenses and state IDs.

Enforcement agents with Arizona’s Department of Liquor Licenses and Control have a new tool to prevent underage drinking. The app, called Age ID, allows officers to use a smartphone camera to verify an ID within a few seconds.

Bryan Lewis, CEO of Intellicheck, the company behind the technology, said states use their own barcode formats for licenses and IDs.

“There’s over 250 valid formats of barcodes,” he said. “And the bad guys can create the plastic to be real but they don’t understand how the states each do their printing of that particular barcode and there’s also some security in many of those barcodes that we work with the states to understand.”

He said the app verifies age information with an accuracy greater than 99% and is used by more than 55 law enforcement agencies nationwide.

“The main way that law enforcement tends to use this is if they suspect a store or a bar is selling to underage they just go in and check the IDs of every person in the bar,” Lewis said. “And it’s one of the reasons law enforcement likes this tool — they can clear a very large bar in minutes and know who has a fake and who doesn’t.”

In an email response to KJZZ's questions, Jeffery Trillo, assistant director of the licensing and administration division, said Arizona investigators began using the app in April.

“Individual privacy interests are protected in the use of this technology, as there is no collection, storage, or commercial sale and use of personal information by the vendor and this department,” Trillo said. “The tool aids the user in determining identification authenticity by ensuring an ID’s barcode meets unique barcode formatting standards, as well as provides digitally stored age information for the ID owner.”

Trillo said the subscription is paid using federal grant money, but he did not specify the amount.

You can report underage sales to the Arizona Department of Liquor Licenses and Control by calling 877-668-5345 or using this online form.

As part of the Sober Truth on Preventing (STOP) Underage Drinking Act, enacted in 2006 and reauthorized in 2016, Congress requires states to submit annual reports on efforts to prevent or reduce underage drinking.

The 2018 Arizona report found 114 alcohol-attributable deaths for those under 21. The percentages that admitted to using alcohol in the past month broke down this way:

  • Ages 12-14 = 4.4%
  • Ages 15-17 = 14.3%
  • Ages 18-20 = 40.6%

The Governor’s Office of Youth, Faith and Family has alcohol information for parents and guardians and children

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