Marc Welty got his first fake ID when he was 19, and it seemed like a good idea at the time.
“It worked in a few liquor stores and even once in downtown Denver,” he said. “When I was 20, I went out to the bars in Fort Collins with some of my older friends. The first bar we went to, I didn’t have a problem.”
Though he was reluctant to “push his luck” with the older crowd, Welty, a senior information systems major, couldn’t resist the appeal of a drink or two with his buddies.
But eventually, Welty’s luck ran out during a visit to a local bar.
“The bouncer looked at it and immediately called it a fake and said to get out of there,” he said, adding that his ID was also confiscated.
Welty is just one example of an underage student who has been investing in illegal IDs.
By the numbers
For those under the age of magic number 21, look-alike IDs have become a way to not only buy alcohol at the local liquor store but also to get into bars, nightclubs, concerts and any other venue that doesn’t cater to the all-ages crowd.
And it’s increasingly common.
A simple Google search for “Fake ID Software” will turn up thousands of links to Web sites promising the buyer a ticket to the world of adulthood for anywhere from $20 to $100, but the growing popularity is costing some people more than face value.
According to the CSU Police Department Web site, between June 2005 and July of 2006 there were 67 citations for fake IDs, up from 22 in the same 2004-2005 time frame.
Ryan Melchior a 23-year-old business and commercial real estate student at Front Range Community College and bartender at C B & Potts, 1415 W. Elizabeth St., says he sees five to 10 fake IDs a week in the clubhouse portion of the restaurant.
“People tend to use fake IDs when there are a lot of people there,” said Melchior, who has bartended there for seven months.
Melchior references a tattered copy of the 2006 version of the “ID Checking Guide” published by the Driver’s License Guide Company, which is kept behind the bar at all times for easy access to pictures of each state’s official license when he suspects that an ID may not be real.
“The security scene is getting really tough on IDs,” he said.
A person caught with a fake ID could be slapped with a $300 fine and up to 90 days in jail, or both.
Those making fake IDs face up to a $750 fine or six months in jail.
And in some cases, especially where criminal impersonation is involved, felony charges could result – punishable by up to $100,000 in fines and jail time.
Every action has a reaction
Melanie Kaup, a sophomore health and exercise sciences student and bartender of three months at the Ramskellar in the Lory Student Center, said she has yet to see a fake ID at the bar.
“I think because of all the things we do here it’s a deterrent,” she said of the security measures taken at the campus bar.
Kaup, along with the other bartenders, had to complete TIPS training, or training for intervention procedures. In addition to certifying employees to serve alcohol and cut patrons off when they’ve had too much, TIPS also trains them in the art of spotting a fake ID.
Ramskellar bartenders also follow a strict policy of confiscating false IDs to turn them over to CSUPD.
Employees are supposed to call CSUPD in questionable instances, said Shelley Clerkin, an employee and junior art major.
On top of possible legal trouble, those caught with fake IDs could also face sanctions from the university.
Students who are in violation of city, state or federal laws can legally be turned over to the school for their violation of the Student Code of Conduct.
“In seeing what the students go through it’s not worth it for five minutes of fun,” said Craig Chesson, interim director of Conflict Resolution and Student Conduct Services.
For what it’s worth
Zach Wills, a junior history major, has had three fake IDs and says he’s never had a problem getting or using them in his hometown, Indianapolis, or in Fort Collins.
“When you’re underage you always know someone with a fake ID,” the now 21-year-old said.
Wills had his first ID when he was 14 and has since borrowed and been given real IDs belonging to real people.
“It’s easy,” he said. “A lot of people saw it and served me anyway.”
Like most establishments, Melchior says that the C B & Potts policy is to confiscate a fake ID from the customer and turn it over to authorities.
After having turned away at least 15 to 20 IDs in his time as a bartender, Melchior estimates that he may have missed “just a handful” of false IDs.
“Colorado IDs are normally pretty bad,” he said. “We obviously know what they look like so they’re easier to catch.”
As for what makes an easily spotted bad ID, Melchior says a poorly replicated hologram, creases in the middle of the card as well as corners that peel up are all dead giveaways.
“IDs are made in so much detail these days that (these lines) are going to be hard to duplicate,” he said.
Melchior, who never had a fake ID, said he valued his first experience at a bar that much more having earned the privilege the right way.
“I really didn’t see the point in spending that much money (on an ID) just to go to the bars,” he said. “I don’t think the risk is worth the reward.”
Campus editor Marissa Hutton-Gavel can be reached at email@example.com.