New app released to crack down on underage drinking in Maine

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AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) - The Maine Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations is unveiling a new strategy to combat underage drinking.

"Whether we want to believe it or not, we have a higher rate of incidents of underage drinking in the state," says Tim Poulin, Deputy Director of the Maine Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations.

The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration recently found that Maine ranks in the top 20 states for underage binge drinking incidents.

Nearly 1 in 5 underage Mainers that were interviewed said they binge drank in the last month.

"We take this very seriously, and whatever we can do at the Bureau to promote responsible selling and service of alcohol, we're going to do that," says Poulin.

To try to crack down on underage drinking, the Maine Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations has a new tool: Age ID.

It's an app they're rolling out to 150 Maine alcohol retailers free of charge through a grant they received.

"It recognizes legitimate IDs, it recognizes false IDs, but it's just the first step in identifying whether how it's presented, is it the right person presenting the ID," says Poulin.

We're told it can catch fake IDs 99.9% of the time, so I wanted to see for myself.

"It validated the credential," says Poulin. "It says it's valid. But upon further investigation, it's not an Arizona license. It's a Maryland license. It's not the same person's name. The picture on here doesn't look like they're 44, even though it matches the person who presented it to me."

So although the bar code was one of a real ID, it was for a completely different ID than that one.

This is why they stress that it's a very good tool, but it's never a substitute for human review.