More students are including genuine personal information when creating fake IDs for themselves, according to UT police.
“Lately, we’ve been seeing driver’s licenses that [have] the person’s picture on it, has their name on it, has their address on it, has their driver’s license number on it — has everything on it, except a different date of birth,” UTPD officer William Pieper said. “What students don’t realize is that we tend to run those driver’s license numbers, and, when we run it, the computer comes back with their correct date of birth.”
A public relations sophomore, who requested anonymity to avoid legal repercussions, said he uses his fake ID at least once a week at grocery stores and bars downtown.
“It’s a pretty legit one — it’s not paper, it’s actually laminated — and has my name, my face, basically everything about me, except my address,” the student said.
Police officers usually encounter students with fake driver’s licenses after they stop students for other criminal activity, such as underage drinking, Pieper said.
“When I ask to see their driver’s license, [students] hold it very close to their chest … because they don’t want me to see their drinking ID,” Pieper said.
Pieper said officers are sworn to uphold the law, which prohibits people under 21 from drinking alcohol, but said officers can sometimes use their own discretion when deciding what charges to file.
“If [someone is] involved in another offense — say we stop somebody for minor in possession of alcohol — and they’re also in possession of a driver’s license and a fictitious [license], we may file one charge and not the other, but we’ll just document that they were in possession of a fictitious one,” Pieper said.
Most of the time, the punishment for having a fake ID is a Class C misdemeanor involving a fine of up to $500, Pieper said. The offense can be a felony under certain circumstances, he said.
“You get into felony grade where you’re talking about producing your own [ID] or tampering with a government document, or having one to defraud or harm somebody else,” Pieper said. “Then you’re going to prison — not a local jail, prison — for at least a year,” Pieper said.
Political communications junior Sebastian Lopez, who works as a bouncer for a bar on Sixth Street, said he sees fake IDs every night.
“Nearly one out of 20 IDs [is fake], and there could be nearly hundreds of people in and out of the bar throughout the night,” Lopez said. “The easiest way [to prove an ID is fake] is when a patron shows a picture of someone that is clearly not them.”
Lopez said he denies those with fake IDs entry into the bar and then either keeps the fake or gives it back based on the person’s attitude.
Pieper said he wants students to assess if having a fake ID is worth it in the long run.
“A big reason for that age is based on maturity levels and based on experience levels — when people are younger and drinking, they’re more like to partake in risky behavior and be a harm to [themselves],” Pieper said.