By Sophie Tomasic
April 30, 2018
It was just after the second week of fall classes. Colin, a 20-year-old University of Arkansas student, parked his car in the parking lot of Liquor World on College Avenue. He was planning to buy alcohol using a fake ID.
Amazon Credit Make - Card Colin had used his fake ID many times before then, including at Liquor World, and it had never been an issue. He saw no reason to be nervous, he said.
Amazon Credit Make - Card Colin pulled into Liquor World around 6 p.m. that Saturday night. He had just used his ID at a different liquor store that did not have the beer he wanted, so he stopped at Liquor World to get it. After grabbing a six-pack of Shiner Ruby Redbird, he headed to the checkout counter. There were two guys working who were dressed in regular clothes. The cashier asked for Colin’s ID and looked at it. He gave it to the other guy working behind the counter, and he also examined it.
“All right, show me your real ID,” the man said.
“That is my real ID,” Colin responded.
Sometimes liquor store workers have tried to get Colin to admit his ID was fake but sold alcohol to him anyway, so Colin just maintained that it was his real ID. This argument went back and forth a couple more times between the two until the man pulled out his police badge. Realizing he had no other option, he gave the officer his real ID. The officer told Colin he was going to give him a ticket for attempting to purchase alcohol underage. The officer took Colin to a back room in the liquor store, where there were two more officers and a line of five other minors getting tickets for using fake IDs. By the time Colin had gotten his ticket and left 30 minutes later, there were another four people behind him in line. When he was in line, he was running through the worst-case scenarios in his head.
“I was super scared. My cheeks were burning. I had a feeling in my chest that I had never felt before or since,” Colin said. “I knew I messed up so badly. I thought I was going to get kicked out of school.”
After about 10 minutes, Colin calmed down and realized he could not do anything about his situation except wait for his ticket. He started talking with the officers about underage drinking in Fayetteville.
“Man, sounds like you guys should lower the drinking age,” Colin said to the officers. They laughed.
The officer wrote him his ticket for possession of a fake ID and took away his driver’s license, which was the worst part of the experience. The fine was fairly expensive, around $300, but the biggest inconvenience was that he was not legally allowed to drive for 30 days.
Colin wanted to only use his first name because his ticket was expunged from his record and is no longer public information, he said.
Between 2012 and 2018, there have been 163 fake ID cases reported to UAPD. All these students received a citation for possession of a fake ID, according to a search query done by Crain. It is illegal for a person under the age of 21 to possess a fake ID, according to Arkansas state law. If sellers of alcoholic beverages such as bartenders, bouncers or liquor store employees believe that minors are using fake IDs, they have the right to detain the suspected people and call for law enforcement officers. Guilty people will be charged with a Class B misdemeanor, will have to turn in their real driver’s license to the officer and will have their driving privileges suspended for 30 days.
Almost 60 percent of college students ages 18 to 22 drank alcohol in the span of one month, according to a 2014 college drinking survey done by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
Fake ID ownership increases throughout the span of college. Around 12.5 percent of students had fake IDs before they went to college, while 32.2 percent of college sophomores own fake IDs, according to a 2016 article titled “How Strong is the ‘Fake ID Effect’”. I would argue that these statistics err on the low side. Out of my 450-student graduating class, at least 20 seniors had fake IDs, and the number grew substantially when I came to college. I would estimate that around 40 percent of my college friends have fake IDs.
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Underage drinking is an inevitable occurrence on college campuses. I have many underage friends who ask students who are over 21 or other underage kids with fake IDs to purchase their alcohol. I also have friends who drink alcohol at fraternity parties, although there is a risk associated with this because they don’t know what exactly goes in the mixed drinks. Freshman year, one of my good friends only had two drinks of punch at a fraternity house and came home throwing up, falling over and making no sense. We were unsure if that was because she was drugged or there was just an exorbitant amount of alcohol in the punch. Either way, not knowing what goes in alcoholic mixed drinks at parties is very much a health concern. I understand why minors get fake IDs because buying your own alcohol is a way to ensure you know exactly what you are drinking.
I spoke with Cpl. Dallas Brashears of the Fayetteville Police Department about going undercover to stop fake ID use. FPD officers go to liquor stores, bars and restaurants to do investigations like what Colin experienced at Liquor World.
Brashears has three ways he can check for fake IDs. He has a pocket magnifying glass with a black light that helps him look at all the details and security features. He has an app on his phone that allows him to scan the barcode on the back of the ID and check if the information is correct. He can also call the dispatch center, and the dispatch worker will tell him who the ID belongs to based on the number. If it belongs to a different name or the same name under a different birth date, then he knows it is fake. If any of these verification methods show the ID to be fake, he will then write the suspected person a citation for possession of a fake ID and possibly a citation for a minor in possession if they are consuming alcohol at a restaurant or bar. A citation is a ticket that does not always warrant an arrest. When Brashears encounters these situations, he asks the suspected person to be honest with him. FPD rarely arrests underage people and only does so when the person is argumentative and adamant that the ID is real or when they are dangerously intoxicated, Brashears said. In 2017 alone, Brashears did over 100 of these busts, but didn’t arrest a single person.
A few weeks ago, FPD worked in Sabor Guacamole and confiscated 17 fake IDs in one night. Last semester, Brashears caught more than 20 fake IDs from Hog Haus Brewing Co. and 12 from El Patio Mexican Bar & Grill in one night, he said.
“It’s not about punishing kids,” Brashears said. “This is a college town. People make mistakes. But we need to be sure bars, restaurants and liquor stores are doing the right thing and checking IDs.”
If kids are honest with police officers, go to court, are respectful to the judge and follow the rules of their sentencing, they will most likely be able to get the charge removed from their permanent records, Brashears said.
Not only is attempting to buy alcohol using a fake ID against the law, just being in possession of one is also illegal. I spoke with UAPD Capt. Gary Crain, who said that UAPD finds many fake IDs through routine traffic stops. In those cases, a student will get pulled over by a police officer and be asked to present identification. While looking through their wallet, the officer will see an ID, but the student will reach for another ID because the first one is fake. That person is then arrested for possessing a fake ID.State Michigan Id Cards To In Radio County First Washtenaw Issue
Because police cannot be at every liquor store, bar or restaurant all the time, those places have their own protocols when their workers encounter fake IDs.
I visited Blue Top Liquor, a popular liquor store on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, one Tuesday night around 5:30 p.m. I spoke with store employee Logan Miller about the store’s policy on fake IDs. He immediately pulled out a box filled with hundreds of fake IDs that had been confiscated over the past three years. Most of those were taken at the beginning of each semester because students arrive at the UofA and try out their fake IDs during that time. Because it is past that busy period, he only encounters about three per week. Miller and the other employees studied the 2018 Drivers License Guide, which shows what the IDs from each state are supposed to look like. Miller always confiscates fake IDs. Every once in awhile, undercover police will come into Blue Top in civilian clothes and pretend to be customers or workers in training, just like what happened when Colin received his ticket. If the store routinely allowed minors with fake IDs to purchase alcohol, the business would be fined and could lose its liquor license. The employee who sold the alcohol could also be fired. When Miller suspects an ID is fake, he tells the suspected person he knows it is fake and that he has to take it. Usually, the person just leaves. If they try to argue, Miller threatens to call the police, and they always leave after that.
Amazon Credit Make - Card “Underage kids just need to wait until they’re 21 like everybody else,” Miller said.
I went to Dickson Street on a Thursday night around 9 p.m. to speak with bouncers and bartenders. Nick Adams is a bouncer at Yeehawg who encounters at least three fake IDs per night. He always confiscates IDs he suspects to be fake. If a bouncer does give it back, the bar owner can send them to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Division; its goal is to regulate distribution and sale of alcoholic beverages, according to its website. Nick and the other bouncers at Yeehawg receive $5 for every fake ID they confiscate. Like Miller at Blue Top Liquor, Nick will confiscate IDs and tell the people to leave. If they do not, he will get the police involved. Police officers do bar checks at Yeehawg about once per week, Nick said.
In the middle of our interview, two men came to the door of Yeehawg, and Nick asked for their IDs. He spent about a minute examining them by shining a black-light flashlight on the IDs. Once he determined they were real, he let the men enter the bar.
“Don’t use fake IDs here,” Nick said. “But if you do, and you get caught, just walk away. Save yourself the fine and a night in jail.”
That is what Jessica, a 20-year-old University of Arkansas student, did when she was caught trying to use a fake ID in April 2016. She was just a freshman then, and it was the first time she had tried to use her fake ID on a Saturday night with a group of her friends. They went to Shots first, and their IDs worked. At that point, Jessica was feeling confident that she could get into any bar. The next bar they went to was Stir, where the bouncer said that her ID was “the worst fake ID he had ever seen,” she said. He took the ID and told the girls to leave. She left immediately because she was scared, she said.
Jessica ordered her fake ID from a website called ID God. She used all her same personal information but used a fake Kentucky address. She used the same day and month but a different year for her birthday. She received two IDs, and after having the first one taken the first night she attempted to use it, she has never attempted to use the second one.
“Once I got over the novelty of the idea of a fake ID, I realized it was too much of a risk,” she said.
When she was a freshman, she thought it was arbitrary that the drinking age was 21 and that minors could not get into bars. Now that she is a junior and turned 21 in April, her opinion has changed.
“I don’t want a bunch of freshmen who don’t necessarily know how to handle their alcohol yet going to bars,” she said.
One of my friends had a somewhat positive interaction with using a fake ID on Dickson Street. University of Arkansas sophomore Brittany was out with a group of friends on New Year’s Eve 2017 when a bar took her fake ID. Everyone is her group was using a fake ID, and she was the first to enter the bar, she said.
“I was acting very confident because I had a little bit of alcohol in me,” she said. “Usually I’m intimidated by authority, so I wouldn’t be able to pull it off sober.”
Brittany and her friends went to three bars that night. There were no problems getting into the first two. At the third and last bar, she said the bouncer barely looked at her ID, and she got in fine. However, one of her male friends was having trouble with the bouncer, and the bouncer found her inside and asked to see her ID again after a couple of minutes had passed. He realized it was fake and told her he was going to have to keep it, she said.
It was really cold that night, so the bouncers told Brittany and her friends that they could stay and hang out in the bar. They could not buy drinks. She sat at the front of the bar for awhile and talked to the bar manager. She asked him if they turned fake IDs into the police. He told her they did not and that she would not get in legal trouble. They just had to take fake IDs because it is a liability for the bar. When Brittany and her friends left, the bouncers told her they would “be happy to have them back when they were 21,” she said.
Another friend of mine, Laine, said she has interacted with liquor store workers who were lenient about her using a fake ID. She went to City Liquor at the beginning of fall 2017, and the men working there joked around with her about her ID being fake. Laine said they told her, “You’re nice, so we’re not going to take your ID. The only time we take it is if people are being jerks and insisting their ID is real when we know it’s fake.” That was the only time she has ever been called out for having a fake ID, she said.
Fake IDs are clearly abundant on college campuses. Despite knowing the legal implications and the strict reputations of bars and liquor stores in Fayetteville, students continue to use fake IDs. While I understand police officers and bouncers are required by law to prevent minors from consuming alcohol, ticketing students is not solving the problem. Laine told me if her fake ID ever got taken away, she would just buy another one. Fake ID usage does not decrease because authorities are stricter. Perhaps we need to look at reforming our laws to make them less punitive and more informative about the risks associated with underage drinking.
“I think it’s arbitrary that minors can be entirely financially independent from their parents, rent their own apartments and pay their own bills, but they are not considered old enough to drink alcohol,” Colin said.
Editor’s Note: We made the decision to quote the students anonymously because the University of Arkansas’ Office of Student Standards and Conduct representatives indicated that they could pursue conduct sanctions against the students who possess or possessed fake IDs.