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Even after close calls, underage drinkers ignore laws, unaware of penalties

August 31, 2004|by BECKY JEFFERIES/Staff Writer

The penalty can be as stiff as $1,000 in fines, one year in jail and 12 points on a driver's license, so why do young adults continue to exploit false identification?

To get into clubs and bars and to buy alcohol is why, according to a 20-year-old Hagerstown man who paid his 23-year-old friend $50 to falsely claim to Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration employees that he lost his license and needed a replacement.

Users of fake IDs did not want to share their names for this story. The following names are not real.

Although he worries about getting caught and is aware of harsh consequences, the Hagerstown man, John, said he uses his fake ID at least once a week. He said that "the fines are ridiculous," but even so, "the use of fake IDs is very, very common."

Sarah, an 18-year-old Sharpsburg resident, paid $35 to a Frostburg State University student to use his home equipment to fabricate an ID. She said she passes for 21 twice a week to get into bars and buy alcohol for herself and her friends.

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"I've been caught once. The guy at the liquor store told me what was wrong with (the ID) and said if I got it fixed, he would serve me," Sarah said.

She also said that about 60 percent of her college friends use fake IDs obtained from older friends or people with manufacturing equipment.

To Kate, 20, of Hagerstown, using a fake ID to get into bars is a common activity. At 17, after she purchased her first of three fake IDs from an FSU student, she passed for a 23-year-old as often as three times a week before the $50 ID was scanned at a local bar, determined to be false and cut in half, she said.

Instead of being prosecuted, Kate was told to come back at age 21. The second ID was obtained through an older friend through a familiar method - she told the MVA that she lost her license and needed a replacement. After employees of a local bar recognized that Kate did not match the photo on that ID, it, too, was confiscated.

"They tried to restrain me and call the police, but I got away," Kate said of the instance.

Kate said she used her ID as often as John.

"(Fake IDs) are prevalent in this area," Kate said. "There are several colleges close by, so people that make them are easily accessible."

She said that females are less likely to get caught.

"I definitely think it's easier for girls to use them," she said. "Think about it: Bouncers are usually men, so if you are a pretty decent girl you aren't going to get hassled much. They'll just glance at the ID and let you in."

With no worries of getting caught a third time, Kate is using a fake ID that was made by a student at Towson University.

When asked if she what the penalties are for fraudulently obtaining a driver's license or misrepresenting her age to obtain liquor, Kate said, "I don't know, probably a fine."

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