Downtown Las Vegas Cracks Down on Underage Drinking

LAS VEGAS -- Downtown Las Vegas is pulling out even more stops to crack down on teen drinking. That's on top of a new curfew and more officers patrolling the area.

Last week, police say a suspected 17-year-old drunken driver crashed into a light pole and median in the area of Bonanza and Maryland Parkway. The passenger in the car, 19-year-old Iveth Cruz, died.

On Thursday, specialized training was held for future employees of The Container Park, but organizers said they want to expand that.

Twenty-year-old Betty Selshi said she calls downtown a "go-to" area for underage drinking.

"There's a lot of people, so it's harder to spot who is 16, who's 18, who's 21, 23. So, it's kind of easier to get away with drinking downtown," said Selshi.

Chris Curtis realizes that and is trying to get ahead of the problem.

Chris curtis is trying to get ahead of the problem.

"You can read news story after news story of underage people over-drinking, becoming sick, sometimes dying, getting into vehicle accidents, and we don't want to see that here," said Curtis, who works for The Downtown Project.

The retired Metro police sergeant has helped employees downtown, like bartenders, spot underage drinkers.

"We feel that we can be effective in helping people help themselves," said Curtis.

The signs to find underage drinkers can be noticeable, such as teens scurrying around or trying to find drinks that may be left behind, he said.

One problem that still exists: fake IDs. There is technology to help, like ID scanners, which are already being utilized downtown. But, fake IDs still remain a problem across Las Vegas.

"It's not hard to get one these days," said Yonas Betermran, a college freshman.

Hennessy's on Fremont Street said it's seen its fair share of wanna-be IDs.

"It can be a problem in the evenings," said Andrew Northam, Business Manager for Hennessy's. "What we do if we have a suspect ID, we usually ask for a second form of ID."

Northam, like Curtis, agree -- more training can only help.

"If it's predictable, it's preventable," Curtis said.

He adds training protects both the employees and underage drinkers.

How? It protects employees from getting in trouble, since they can be held responsible for serving the alcohol but also keeps potential underage drinkers from danger.



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