Are Fake I.D.s Worth the Risk?


Not too long ago, my best friend and I were craving sweet potato tots and the Table Sandwich from Linda’s. So we headed to the fine establishment to get our fix. After placing our orders, the bartender returned to our table with a pint for my friend and asked if I wanted anything to drink. I thought, sure, why not. I ordered a porter of some sorts, and of course, as expected, the bartender asked, “May I see your I.D.?” I scrummaged through my wallet to find that my I.D. was nowhere to be found. I told the bartender I was sorry and that I misplaced my I.D. This is when the scene became serious. The bartender went from chill and easy-going to an Army sergeant in half a second. He said, “Okay, I can’t serve you any drinks. And if I even see you taking a drink from your friend’s glass, I’m going to have to ask both of you to leave.”

I responded by telling him that I completely understood. Just for record sake, I am 4 years past the legal age to drink. If I did have my I.D. this whole scenario would have never been a thing!

The bartender continued by saying, “I’m sorry, but we are really cracking down around here because of the situation that happened over the summer.” I knew exactly what he was talking about, and understood why his demeanor became so strict and serious within a blink of an eye.

You may be aware of the incident the bartender was referring to as well. The two bars the former UNC students drank at before his accident are facing major ramifications for providing alcohol to a minor and not checking his I.D.

Image courtesy of Brandon Athan on Flickr.

These consequences are less than ideal for a bar owner. As you could probably imagine, no other bar owner in Chapel Hill wants to go through what He’s Not Here and La Residence are now facing. The leniency in allowing an individual to get away with using a fake is lessening.  Right now, more than ever, using a fake I.D. at a bar in Chapel Hill is a great risk.

With that said, it may be important to keep in mind the consequences that one can face when caught using a fake I.D. At the very least of one’s worries, you can get your I.D. taken away and asked to leave a bar. But, there is definitely more that could be at stake. If you do possess a fake and are convicted of using one, you will have a class one misdemeanor on your record which is punishable by a fine, community service, probation, or even an active jail term for someone that has prior criminal convictions.  Fines and court costs alone can run up to $500, and if you hire an attorney, you have attorney’s fees on top of that. The whole thing may cost you around $1,000 or more.

Furthermore, the class one misdemeanor that you can gain on your record will be classified as a misdemeanor for use of fraudulent identification. A charge like this can cause a major impact on your future. It could disable you to get your dream job after graduation.

I spoke to Fran Lewis Muse, an attorney at the Carolina Student Legal Services here at UNC, and she stated:

“I have heard of cases where job offers have been withdrawn after an Employer learns of a fake I.D. charge. I have heard other lawyers report this, especially in the investment and/or banking industry. In a job where you are going to handle other people’s money, any kind of crime that has an element of fraud or deceit, might trigger a negative reaction from a potential employer. They may think that they cannot trust you.  Also, expungements are not what they used to be.  We can expunge records from the courthouse and other state agencies, but a thorough internet search of a person may reveal the charge. There are companies that buy court docketts and publish the information, such as mugshot.com. In a tight job market, a charge of fake I.D. could have a negative impact for an applicant.”

Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide to use a fake I.D. or not.  This blog is meant to show you that the consequences are real, and can happen.  As they have with the former UNC student and many others.

If you do happen to find yourself charged for a fake I.D. or want to know more about the legal consequences of using one, always feel free to reach out to the Carolina Student Legal Services.

Jenna Hess is the Program Assistant for the Carolina Recovery Program at Student Wellness. She graduated from Viterbo University in La Crosse, WI with a degree in Psychology and Substance Abuse Counseling. Learning about mental health illnesses, addiction, and how to help people struggling with these issues is a passion of hers. She also is a strong advocate for recovery, and hopes to spread awareness about Collegiate Alcohol/Drug Addiction Recovery across UNC’s campus.

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