Police crack down on underage drinking

Undercover local cops wait outside Darwin, Spiritus, Madeira for underaged customers

Staff Writer
Thursday, October 22, 2015

Two local liquor stores ­— Spiritus Fermenti and Darwin Liquors — have purchased ID scanners to verify customers’ identification. “I’m just trying to cover my bases,” said Charles Nikolov, manager of Spiritus.

Undercover Providence Police officers have started waiting outside local liquor stores to apprehend underaged customers, several sources reported. Two local liquor stores — Darwin Liquors and Spiritus Fermenti — have subsequently purchased ID scanners to verify customers’ identification.

Charles Nikolov, manager of Spiritus, said he bought a new ID scanner Oct. 15 after consulting with the owner of Darwin Liquors. The store is not required to use an ID scanner, Nikolov said, adding that the purchase of the scanner was of his own “free will.”

“I’m just trying to cover my bases,” Nikolov said.

Owner of Darwin Liquors George Darwin said he bought an ID scanner last December after Providence Police officers who were parked across the street from the store apprehended several customers with fake IDs, resulting in a $7,500 fine for the store. 

One of the two students apprehended outside of Spiritus in September, a first-year who asked to remain anonymous due to confidentiality concerns, purchased a bottle of wine from the store. She and her friend were stopped by two undercover cops, who asked to see their IDs.

The two students’ fake IDs didn’t pass the “bend test” — meaning that they creased when bent — and the cops “threatened to run them through the system unless we came clean, so we told them the truth,” she said. The cops refrained from arresting the two because they had told the truth, but they did require them to pay a fine and go to court, she said. “It wasn’t a big deal, but it was annoying,” she added.

Students have reported seeing Providence Police cars parked outside of Spiritus, Madeira Liquors and Darwin Liquors this fall. Unlike Darwin Liquors, neither Spiritus nor Madeira has faced fines or penalties regarding fake IDs or underage drinking. 

Diane Ascencao, manager of Madeira, said she does not plan to buy an ID scanner because she believes they are too expensive and not always accurate. “We have the book that has all the pictures of the IDs from every state. I look at updates online. You just have to educate yourself on what to look for,” Ascencao said.

Though the scanners acquired by Darwin and Spiritus are not police mandated, Darwin and Nikolov said they were necessary investments to protect the integrity of their businesses. “We do our job the best way we can,” Nikolov said.

The Providence Police and the Department of Public Safety did not respond to requests for comment.


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  1. Chris Robotham says:

    The war on 18-20 year olds buying alcohol is an absurdly stupid use of public time and money. All it does is encourage kids < 18 to binge drink (since they treat opportunities to drink as miracles and go way over the top) and bring the market for false identification – market that was once reserved for people who were very much "real criminals" – into the mainstream. I'm pretty worried for students here after this:

  2. Going to court and paying a fine wasn’t a big deal??? Anyone else have parents that would bring them straight home if this happened to them?

  3. Very honorable, Nikolov, but seeing as your prices are about 1.5x everywhere else and people only went to Spiritus because you didn’t scan, how will you survive?

  4. 1.) To prevent blood borders, the drinking age in every State has to be 21, because that’s the only integer that is equal to itself.

    2.) Drinking alcohol during pregnancy harms the baby, so we impose Prohibition on men under 21 and not on pregnant women 21 and older.

    3.) A tipsy rape victim will be arrested for internal possession if she calls the police, who are there to protect and serve.

    4.) We jail parents who are home supervising your drinking sessions in order to prevent you from holding such sessions.

    5.) A new scientific study published in the New England Journal of Medicine conclusively establishes that the politicians you voted against have a right to impose this law on you.

    6.) Statistical analysis of historical crash data proves that the United States of America ought not to be a free country, with liberty and justice for all, where the citizen decides what to drink, where parents govern their child who still lives in their house, where the punishment for drunk driving is meted out to the drunk drivers.

    7.) Freeways are more important than freedom, — especially when it’s your freedom, not ours — so we sold your freedom to get more highway construction money from Congress, (like a mother selling her daughter for cocaine money,) and we still expect you to respect this law.

    8.) The drinking age saves lives. Of course, we could save a lot more lives, maybe yours, by doing what it takes to eliminate drunk driving, but we’d have to give up driving drunk ourselves, and that’s not fair because we can drive better drunk than teenagers can sober.

    9.) A combination of driving inexperience and alcohol make you a greater danger on the road, whether you drive or not, and that gives us the right to punish you when you drink alcohol, whether you drive or not.

    10.) Don’t drive drunk? We can list some other crimes you never commit, as an excuse to violate your right to liberty: murder, rape, assault…

    11.) Everybody who drinks under age is immature and irresponsible because they’re doing something that is illegal, as well it should be, because they’re so immature and irresponsible.

    12.) Liquor corporations have the nerve to advertise their products to you, and we have more respect for their First Amendment right to free speech than we have for your God-given right to drink the beverage of your choice.

    13.) We can’t stop older drunks from freely exercising their right to practice alcoholism, because they hold too much political power, but some of them started as teenagers and never had a chance to quit since then, so we punish you instead.

    14.) You shouldn’t destroy your brain while it is only 95 percent developed. You should wait until it is completely developed and then destroy it, like we did.

    15.) Even though this law is imposed on you by morons who cannot see the obvious flaws in these absurd arguments, it is embellished with a fancy seal, and a Governor years ago scribbled his autograph on it, so you have a sacred duty to obey it.

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