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Greenwich Daily Voice serves Greenwich, CT

Police Teach Merchants Drinking Age Rules

Greenwich liquor store merchants and restaurant owners got the lowdown on underage drinking rules at the Greenwich Police Department on Tuesday morning. For Jeb Friota of Val’s Putnam Wines, working pre-emptively helps mitigate any problems.

“I think the seminar was most helpful as a way to keep abreast of the new laws and to know how to identify what is legal or illegal,” he said. “With summertime and holidays coming up, it’s the busiest time for underage drinking.”

Sgt. Mark Zuccerella of the Special Victims Section of the Greenwich Police Department says they receive few complaints about juveniles buying alcohol in stores and restaurants. But he said getting to know the laws is key to protecting an establishment.

Zuccerella reached out to Dichello Distributors of Orange to discuss how to spot fake identifications. “They’ve now received the training and have held different forms of fake IDs and got to pass them around to see firsthand what they might look like,” said Zuccerella.

Danny Chan, owner of Asiana Café, said he attended to learn rules and regulations even though he has had no issues with underage drinking since the restaurant’s opening in 2002. “Because there are many Europeans in the area and the drinking age is lower there, so I want to make sure I know the correct rules so I don’t turn away customers,” Chan said. “I want to make them feel comfortable that I know the correct regulations.”

Zuccerella said in Greenwich, most teens get alcohol from home, not from stores, bars or restaurants. “The first stage is to reach out to the people who sell alcohol to the town and the second stage is to the parents, because we get to the children through schools,” said Zuccerella, “We want to reach everybody to hopefully create some awareness for underage drinking. It’s going to be hard to stop.”

Annually, 709,000 young people ages 12 to 14 have drunk alcohol in the past month, according to a study by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services . Nearly 94 percent received their alcohol for free the last time they drank and nearly 45 percent got the alcohol for free from family or at home.

“We all know what alcohol does to people — it makes them do things they wouldn’t normally do. But that can lead to risky behaviors, especially for underage drinkers,” said Zuccerella. “Hopefully by reaching out first to establishments and then to parents, we can help lessen the consumption.”

Do you think there is a problem in Greenwich with underage drinking? Comment below or send your responses to

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