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SD: ID scanners catching more underage minors trying to enter Fargo bars

SD: ID scanners catching more underage minors trying to enter Fargo bars
More than 200 confiscated from two establishments recently

By Barry Amundson
February 16, 2022

FARGO — Fargo Police Chief David Zibolski has been urging more bars to purchase identification card scanners, and with a few more adding it to their operations, an increase in fake identification cards being confiscated are being reported.

A report to Fargo Liquor Control Committee on Wednesday, Feb. 16, said two bars — Sports Bar in downtown Fargo and The Windbreak in southwest Fargo — have turned in more than 200 fake IDs in recent days.

Zibolski said today’s technology allows easy creation of real-looking IDs, but even if they are confiscated at the bars, the name on the ID often doesn’t match the minor trying to enter the bar or purchase alcohol.

He wishes more bars would purchase the ID scanners to help prevent the problem and stop other difficulties resulting from minors in bars.

Liquor Control Chairman Dave Piepkorn suggested the city send out letters to bars and restaurants serving liquor with information about the scanners.

City Auditor Steve Sprague said he could undertake such an effort.

Preston Nesemeier, who handles compliance checks at bars and restaurants as well as server training, said he recently received a “shoe box” filled with fake IDs from the bars.

Zibolski said it would be better if the bars catching minors with fake IDs to contact police within 24 hours to make it easier to possibly issue tickets.

He added, though, that if the licenses are confiscated, it does at least prevent the minor from entering the bar and any reuse in the future.

City Prosecutor William Wischer said it’s a Class B misdemeanor if a person is caught, which can result in 30 days in jail or a $1,500 fine, or both.

He said there is a fair share of such tickets issued despite some of the problems involved in catching the minors while using the fake IDs.

Zibolski said there is getting to be more success in stopping the use of fake IDs with the scanners more bars are using.

“I applaud the businesses that are taking the steps to use them,” he said.

Meanwhile, liquor control board members said they were concerned about the number of calls to The Windbreak, despite the many fake IDs they have been finding.

Committee member Lydia Tackett said she saw there were eight calls to the bar in the past month, and four in one night.

Zibolski said most of the calls were for over intoxication, but his department has been trying to work with the popular bar to address issues.

He said one owner has been uncooperative, while they are attempting to meet with another owner. Zibolski suggested the liquor control board may want to step in.

Committee member Kay Schwarzwalter said she was concerned that in some of the calls the people “kicked out” for fighting are just sent out to the parking lot, suggesting maybe there should be more arrests.

Pipekorn said many bars are “playing by the rules,” and it’s not fair to those businesses when problems are found at others.

On another issue, committee member Robert Nelson was concerned about a beer and wine license issued for a new axe-throwing business called U.S. Axe on 45th Street in South Fargo. He wondered if it was illegal under state law to have alcohol when weapons are inside the building.

Zibolski said there are other similar facilities in the city and there has been no problems reported, and that other such operations are found around the country.

Pipekorn said axe throwing and serving alcohol didn’t appear to be a “winning combination,” but said if the business was operating safely at other locations, he wasn’t against the popular new recreation.

The beer and wine license, which requires food to come to 50% of the sales, was approved for the new operation by the board and is sent to the City Commission for final approval.