Do you fake it?

Sep 042002
Authors: Christopher J. Ortiz

For some students under the legal drinking age, getting a fake ID is one way not to wait until they are 21.

But if you are thinking about getting a fake ID, beware of the consequences you could face when you try using it to get into bars in Fort Collins.

“We have a very low tolerance with fake IDs,” said Bud Bredehoft, an officer for the Fort Collins Police. “When we get a good case, it will probably be prosecuted.”

Students risk misdemeanor and possibly felony charges if caught using an ID. that is not legitimate.

In most scenarios, people are charged with a class-three misdemeanor when caught with a fake ID. That charge can carry a $30-750 fine, six months jail time, and/ or community service.

For most first-time offenders, a minor in possession (of alcohol) charge, along with education classes, is the penalty for trying to use a fake ID, but according to Bredehoft, those charges can be just the beginning.

“You can be charged with a felony, you can be charged with possession of a false instrument which is where you take any government document — birth certificate, license — and you make something up,” said Bredehoft.

Charges can start adding up, depending on what the fake ID was used for.

“If a person obtains alcohol using a fake ID, that person can possibly be charged with an alcohol offense,” said Bredehoft. “Or a traffic offense of possessing a forged Colorado driver’s license.”

Bredehoft added that a person could even lose his or her driving rights for possessing a fake ID.

Young people who choose to break the law and try using a fake ID. should consider the consequences and how it can affect their futures, police say.

“Kids don’t realize you can be arrested for that misdemeanor or felony and it could really affect their record when they go to get a job,” Bredehoft said. “They will have to put it down on their applications.”

What are the most common ways to forge or use a fake ID?

According to doormen and bar managers, minors using an ID that is not theirs but of someone who is 21 or over is the most common practice.

Eric Roth is doorman at Old Chicago’s, a restaurant and bar in Old Town.

“It is pretty obvious if it isn’t the person’s ID,” said Roth. “They tend to flash the ID quick or look away when we try to compare the picture in the ID with the person using it.”

An easy way to check to see if the person on the ID is the same person trying to use it is asking about the information such as the name, social security number and address found on the ID.

“We can ask simple questions; the address or name on the ID,” said Brian Horner, a manager for Old Chicago. “It’s a dead giveaway if you don’t know the name on the ID.”

Most bars use an ID codebook that has an up-to-date detailed description of all state identification cards.

Doormen look at the thickness of the ID, the type of plastic used on the card, how the information is typed on the card and if the picture in the ID has been changed or removed.

If a minor decided to try to forge an ID, the book helps doormen compare the thickness, holograms and information found on the ID, among other things, to check to see if the ID is legitimate.

“If you present a fake ID to a doorman and he says it doesn’t look like you, he doesn’t have to give it back,” said Bredehoft, who has served as a police officer for 23 years.

Fort Collins Police Services offer a class to doormen on what to look for in fake I.D.s.

Fort Collins law does not specifically state that bars or restaurants must check I.D.s at the door, but according to Bredehoft, it is a precaution measure to assure minors do not have the opportunity to illegally drink.

“It’s their safeguard,” he said. “If they allow someone underage to get alcohol, they can be held responsible unless they relied on some kind of ID check or policy.”

Bars and restaurants have a lot at stake if they allow minors to drink in their establishments

Penalties include hefty fines and possible suspension of liquor licenses. Because of these possible penalties, Horner said he does not tolerate someone trying to pass with a fake ID.

“Basically it is a zero tolerance,” Horner said. “If we assume or know the ID is fake, we will take the ID away. If we are not sure, we will ask them for another form of ID, but if we are not positive they are not over age, we aren’t going to let them in.”

Alcohol and alcohol licenses bring in a lot of money for restaurants and bars in Fort Collins.

“Liquor is the name of the game,” said Horner. “You lose your liquor license, you start losing money.”

Half of sales at Old Chicago are from alcohol sales, according to Horner.

“If we lose our liquor license, we might as well shut our door,” he said.

So what happens to people who produce, distribute and sell illegitimate IDs?

“You can get a lot of serious trouble for manufacturing fake IDs,” said Bredehoft. “There are some people in that business especially now because of computer software available now.”

People that make fake IDs can face class 6 felony charges that can mean serious jail time and fines.

It is not particularly illegal to possess a fake ID, but when someone goes to use it, it then becomes illegal.

People can buy “novelty” IDs without the risk of running into the law.

For example, if someone in Colorado bought a novelty Arizona driver’s license for personal enjoyment, it is perfectly within state laws. But if someone in Colorado was caught with a forged or fake Colorado license or any state-issued document, it is a different matter. That would fall under possession of a false instrument, which leads to more serious penalties, according to Bredehoft.

There are over 200 liquor licenses in Fort Collins. Alcohol compliance checks are given to each license at least once a year.

“We actually don’t get a whole lot of fake IDs (at Old Chicago),” said Horner. “I think people kind of know that we don’t mess around.”

Bredehoft offered advice to young people who are thinking about using a fake ID.

“Staying out of the bars and avoiding using a fake ID is probably your best bet to stay out of trouble,” he said.

How easy is it to get into bars in Fort Collins using a fake I.D.?

For the most part, I.D.s used by minors to get into bars are not actually fake but just not theirs; typically it is another sibling or a friend who is over 21.

I decided to test how hard or easy it was to use someone’s I.D. to get into a bar when it carded at the door.

I decided to use my roommate’s driver’s license that is 21 but besides both of us having dark hair, doesn’t resemble me at all.

I visited the first bar of the night around 10pm (I have opted to not mention the name of the bars that violated Fort Collins alcohol laws). I was a bit nervous, even though I am 21, but I thought for sure the doorman wasn’t go to let me in but sure enough he glanced at the I.D. I gave him and without looking at my face, he let me right in to drink all the alcohol I wanted to. Score: Me – 1, bars – 0.

An Irish powerbomb later at 10:20, I tried my luck at the second bar of the night, Zydeco’s.

I walked up to the doorman and showed up mine, er my roommate’s driver’s license. He looked at the license, than back at me, and then back at the license.

“Smile” he told me, so I did. Maybe it was the fact I have braces and my roommate does not but he became suspicious. The doorman proceeded by asking me for the social security number on the license, which in assumption would be mine. I gave up and told him I didn’t know it. He told me politely that he couldn’t let me in.

Score: Me -1, bars – 1, dead even after two attempts.

My next trip took me to Old Chicago’s. I didn’t bother trying to use my new I.D. because I personally knew the guy at the door but they were having $2 Colorado brews so I decided to take a detour…back to the “investigation”.

I arrived at my third bar at around 11:45 and was allowed in after the doorman barely looked at my I.D.

Score: Me – 2, bars – 1, not looking too good.

At the last bar I went to, I could have flashed the guy at the door my library card and he would have let me in.

The point of this test was to see how much bars cared about who comes through the doors of their establishments.

The bars I visited were in compliance with Colorado law by having someone checking I.D.s but it doesn’t mean anything if the doormen are not stopping people underage using fake I.D.s or trying to pass as someone else.

I am sure the bars that let me in are not the only bars in Fort Collins that would have let me in, and I am sure if I keep trying to get into bars with someone else’s I.D., I would have eventually gotten caught.

I am not completely faulting the bars themselves for allowing me in but I am faulting the men who simply checked to see if I had an I.D. that let me in.

Fort Collins Police often do alcohol compliance checks with every establishment that has a liquor license, at least once a year.

Hopefully the bars I visited wises up before they lose their licenses.

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