Fake IDs: The Forgotten Felony

“I’m twenty-one in New York!” “Um, my address is 122 S Michigan Street in…. ugh remind me what the town is again?” “Remember, my name is Emily tonight” These phrases may seem strange without context, but are familiar to any college student with their ears open on a Thursday, Friday, or Saturday night. Sometimes maybe even Wednesday night. Any number of these phrases can be heard in dorm rooms and apartments across the nation, as underage students rehearse the answers to questions possibly posed by suspicious bouncers in order to slip through the doors of 21+ clubs and straight to the bars. The use of fake identification by minors, primarily for the purposes of purchasing alcohol and partying on the town has become a nationwide epidemic and one that is largely ignored by the greater population. However, this ignorance points to some major issues within our society, problems that may one day have a larger effect once our generation grows up.

It all begins with the excitement of back door deals and undercover arrangements. In recent years, access to fake IDs has become increasingly easier. From the upperclassman with access to a laminator to large Chinese internet companies, the improvement of technology has greatly increased access to these phony IDs. And students are willing to pay for them. Ranging from $50 to $150, fakes are not cheap commodities. Yet a 2002 study puts ownership at 18% for undergrads and a 2013 article puts usage of fakes at 64%. The creation and purchase of false IDs is not a new trend, but one that’s been around for many years. Ask your parents; I bet you can get them squirming in their seats. The longevity and ease of these practices has lead to the installation of fakes as a major aspect of youth society, an increasingly popular right of passage with consequences much more serious than a possible hangover the next morning.

First of all, the punishment for possessing fake Identification varies from state to state. Ranging from a fine to community service to a night in the slammer, some states, such as Florida, consider false IDs a felony. These tough laws sprung out of a post 9/11 world and through concern over bank and credit fraud, not as means to target underage drinkers. The problem is that most minors with a fake usually aren’t aware of the fact that they are committing such a serious crime. Used to simply being turned away by bouncers or having their IDs confiscated by bartenders, the current assumption is that no harm or real trouble could come out of using a fake ID. In the state of Indiana, depending on circumstance can result in up to a Class C misdemeanor which involves imprisonment for up to 60 days and a fine of up to $500 as well as the revocation of the true license. In Illinois, it’s a Class 4 felony. Casual attitudes in regards to fake IDs can lead to a major shock and a lifetime of explaining in job interviews how you have a felony on your record when all you were looking for was a night of fun and a one beer at the bar. 

Fake IDs are nothing to play around with. They aren’t just another part of the college experience. One study showed a direct relationship between possessing a fake and heavy drinking, with overall drink consumption spiking soon after purchasing a fake, making this both a public health and punitive risk for our generation. We live in an era where FOMO (fear of missing out- for anyone not up on the vocab) is the main motivator, driving us to commit a felony just for a night out with friends. This spring break consider leaving your fake behind, go to Florida to enjoy the sun not the drinks and stay safe knowing that your future won’t be affected by one night of partying at age 18. 

Author Disclaimer: This article in no way, shape or form is meant to pass judgement on the character of those who posses fake identification. My main hope was to inform people of the risks associated with using fake ID’s regularly and the societal implications of such a prevalent issue. 

Stay Safe and Have Fun Collegiettes!


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