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The Yankee Express

Chief’s corner

By Chief Steven J. Wojnar
Dudley Police Department

With a college in town, we often deal with instances where individuals possess false identifications.  Most common use is to purchase alcohol and / or enter establishments limited to those over age 21. With the advances in computer technology, there are some high-quality fake ID’s being produced.  Their use is a concern for public safety as well as the businesses who sell alcoholic beverages.  I was asked to provide some information on false identifications.
Modern technology, primarily via internet, allows many people to obtain these cards.  Their illegal use can impact the user, the public, and the establishments.  Businesses can face serious sanctions, including the suspension of their liquor licenses, if they serve alcohol to minors.  Several sections in the law cover falsified identifications.  The most serious falls und MGL Chapter 90 Section 24B.  This prohibits altering or falsifying several registry documents, including licenses and state issued identification cards.  A violation of this law is a felony, carrying a maximum of a state prison term and a one-year license suspension.  Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 138 Section 34B is the law which outlines identification for alcohol purchases.  This applies to a anyone who alters, defaces, uses, transfers, etc. a false identification. Anyone found with one of these items can face a jail term for at least three months and a suspension of their driver’s license for at least six months.  
Chapter 138 Section 34B lists acceptable forms of identification for employees and people having control of liquor establishments to rely upon.  They are a Massachusetts Driver’s License, Massachusetts Registry issued Liquor Identification Card, a passport issued by the US or country recognized by the US, and/or a valid US Military Identification.  Any other forms of identification (example out of state driver’s license) are to be taken by licensees, agents, or employees at their own risk.  Should there be a violation for service to a minor, only these four types will provide a valid defense for the proprietor of the establishment.  
The goal of the law is to insure underage people are not served alcoholic beverages.  It can be challenging in our area, with a college and proximity to Connecticut and Rhode Island.  People from out of the area may be here purchasing these items.  Businesses are trying to do the right thing and verify the age of customers.  They can face legal trouble for violations.  For the establishments, the best rule to live by is when in doubt, do not serve.  It is better to be cautious and lose a sale, rather than losing a liquor license for a period.  The false ID users also face some significant penalties.  If you are of age and get “carded,” take it as a compliment.  The people asking are only doing their jobs to keep alcohol from minors and protect their livelihood.  
For those still seeking COVID-19 vaccination or other information, it can be found at www.dudleyma.gov or by calling 508-949-8036.  We encourage everyone to continue to be safe.  Your cooperation is greatly appreciated.  These times continue to be challenging and we, at the Dudley Police Department, greatly appreciate the support we receive from our community.  
Thanks again for your questions and comments.  Please send them to me at the Dudley Police Department 71 West Main St. Dudley, Ma. 01571 or email at [email protected]  Opinions expressed in this weekly column are those of Chief Wojnar only and unless clearly noted, do not reflect the ideas or opinions of any other organization or citizen.