Officials: 3% of IDs scanned during Charleston pilot program were fake, expired

A pilot program to combat underage drinking in downtown Charleston will soon end, and police and business owners are calling it a success.
Published: Jun. 12, 2023 at 4:43 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 12, 2023 at 7:29 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A pilot program to combat underage drinking in downtown Charleston will soon end, and police and business owners are calling it a success.

Over 30 late night businesses that serve alcohol took part in the city’s six-month pilot program with Intellicheck, a program that scans for fake IDs.

“I mean, we’ve got 60 people here that work for us that need this job to pay their bills and rents and utilities,” El Jefe owner Roy Neal said. “We don’t want to have something go wrong with our liquor license because of underage drinking, so it makes us sleep better at night, and we know we’re doing the right thing.”

With the pilot set to wrap up, leaders are looking to open the program to all late-night bars and restaurants throughout the city to eliminate underage drinking.

“The business feedback is that it was very helpful to either validate their current processes and see how they were doing or put a step in place they didn’t have previously,” Charleston Police Capt. Jason Bruder said.

City council and other local organizations partnered in November to fund the program with Intellicheck.

Bruder said since the program launched in December, they had over 100,000 scans, with a 3% failure rate. This means around 3,400 IDs were either identified as fake or expired.

“The fake IDs are very good these days because they come from overseas and all kinds of other places,” Bruder said. “The Intellicheck program and that software allows them to validate those. We saw a good responsive rate. I think a lot of the businesses were very happy about being able to try that out at no cost and pursue it further after the pilot program ends.”

Business owners on King, like Neal, said they love the software because it can detect a fake ID in seconds and gives them another layer of security to combat underage drinking and keep their liquor licenses.

“The young people that happen to still want to drink that are underage, they’re finding out which places that are using it, and they just don’t go there,” Neal said. “That’s fine because establishments that are doing it the right way, we don’t want that business anyway.”

The city said they will be expanding the pilot for another month while businesses work out their next steps.

Neal hopes other businesses will install the software to help combat underage drinking.

“I’m sure there’s other places in West Ashley and Daniel Island—there’s other business owners—you don’t have to require it, but if there’s other business owners that want it, give them the opportunity to do it, too,” Neal said.

The extended program will run through July 5. The city said each business will have a special discounted price if they want to continue with the program beyond that.