Fake IDs can spell real trouble


Published: Friday, January 11, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 11, 2008 at 12:00 a.m.

Darin Gentry, an officer with the University of Florida Police Department, remembers an incident where he found two brothers in a dicey situation. The younger brother, who was underage, was trying to use his older brother's ID when Gentry carded him for an open container violation.

"The ID looked a lot like him. However, it looked a lot more like his brother, who was standing a few feet away," Gentry laughed. "He kept trying to play it off, but it didn't work."

According to an article in The New York Times, a University of Missouri study on heavy drinking by underage students found that people who are under 21 are twice as likely to become binge drinkers. When students get their hands on a fake ID, these stats increase.

Dennis Thombs, associate professor and graduate coordinator at Missouri, conducted a study in July where he did field work in front of local bars. After using the breathalyzer, he found more than 20 percent of the patrons acknowledged that they were under the age of 21.

He said the percentage would have probably been much higher, but many of the individuals approached probably weren't telling the truth. The ones that did say they were under the age of 21 usually had a very high blood alcohol level.

Thombs wasn't really sure what makes these individuals go into these bars and drink.

"I suspect that the type of person that drinks in a bar underage is probably more of a risk taker in general," he said. "They are probably more geared to partying."

Thombs said it is probably influenced by other things as well.

He said that through studies he has done, he is finding that a lot of the underage drinkers are young women who are having drinks passed to them.

He said that obtaining a fake ID is not hard to do.

"There are a variety of commercial outlets that are involved in making them," he said. "I think there is even a Web site that is something like fakeid.com."

Thombs said at the moment there is existing technology that could be placed in bars for the use of scanning ids.

He said he knew a sales representative that is promoting the use of this scanning technology. Establishments that have a liquor license and sell alcohol on the premises may be subjected to this in the future. It has to go through legislation to be approved, but Thombs said there will be people lobbying against it.

"It certainly is doable, but whether or not there is the will do to that I don't know," he said.

Officer Gentry said the consequences for the use of a fake ID can vary. It typically depends on how much the ID was altered.

If someone changes the date of birth on their driver's license/state ID or decides to use someone else's ID, it is a misdemeanor charge. If someone creates a fictitious identification or changes more than just their date of birth on their driver's license, it is a felony.

A felony conviction, for this situation, is between one and five years in jail and a $1,000 fine. A misdemeanor conviction, for this situation, calls for less than a year in jail and a $500 fine.

Gentry said both brothers mentioned earlier were charged with misdemeanors . The younger brother was charged with using the older brother's ID. The older brother was charged with letting the younger brother use his ID.

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