Mayor Tecklenburg held a conference at El Jefe Texican Cantina on King Street to discuss the City of Charleston's new six-month pilot program to help prevent underage drinking in downtown bars | Photo by Chelsea Grinstead

A new technology soon is expected to help downtown bars and restaurants reduce underage drinking. 

The City of Charleston has partnered with New-York based system software company Intellicheck to bring its mobile application that authenticates driver’s licenses and IDs to 31 bars on King Street. It’s part of a six-month pilot program announced today that begins Dec. 5. 

“It’s a whole tapestry, a whole combination of efforts going on by the city and by our business partners to make King Street and our business district an even safer place — from traffic enforcement and lane closures to ID checks,” Mayor John Tecklenburg said Wednesday at a downtown press conference. “It all fits together.”

The app enables mobile devices and point-of-scale scanners to authenticate IDs in less than a second, which means bouncers can more readily prevent underage people from getting access to bars with a fake ID. 

Twenty-seven businesses have signed up to participate in the program so far, Tecklenberg said. Four spots remain available for King Street businesses to participate in the introductory program. Business owners interested in signing up for the program should email Meg Thomspon, the city’s director of business and neighborhood services, at

The City of Charleston and destination marketing nonprofit Explore Charleston each contributed $20,000 to fund the program with Intellicheck, which is providing its ID verification technology at a reduced cost. 

“We’re really going to impact underage drinking on King Street and wherever else this model can go,” said Roy Neal, owner of El Jefe Texican Cantina on King Street, a business that already utilizes Intellicheck technology to check IDs. 

City Councilman Mike Seekings said the idea behind the six-month introductory program was to get the ID-scanning app into the hands of local business owners to familiarize them with the product and test whether the system could be adopted on a broader scale. 

“This is just one of the tools that I think that we’re now going to have in our arsenal for the next six months at no charge to our businesses to make our streets safe, inviting and hospitable,” Seekings said at the press conference. 

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