Fake IDs: No Minor Problem

On September 1 a new state law goes into effect making it illegal for anyone under twenty-one to purchase or consume alcoholic beverages. The new legislation-the result of intensive lobbying at the federal level by MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving)-means declining profits for many local bar owners who cater to a fresh-faced, suds-sipping clientele. It also will likely result in decreased state revenue from state liquor tax receipts.

Right now no one is sure how stringently state and local law enforcement agencies will enforce the new law, which makes possession of an alcoholic beverage by an underage person a misdemeanor with a possible fine of $25 to $200. For the record, officials with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission say they’ll enforce the law to the letter. Privately, however, many liquor control agents doubt that enforcement of the new law will be given a high priority.

Not even the most zealous TABC agents, however, would claim the new law will stamp out underage drinking. The new law will probably boost the fake ID card business and tax the creativity of those minors bent on boozing.

Local law enforcement officials say there are all sorts of illegal ways to obtain or manufacture a fake ID, the most common being altering a temporary driver’s license. Police say an individual can white out the date of birth on a temporary driver’s license, insert a new date, and make a Xerox copy of the altered document. Or for $10 or $15, thirsty teens can obtain an unofficial ID card from a passport service. The trouble is, police say, the ID looks official and such services don’t require verification of the date of birth listed on the ID.

Other teens obtain a duplicate driver’s license by using someone else’s identification card. They use an older person’s ID to get a new driver’s license with the minor’s picture and the other person’s name and age.

Of course, any manner of obtaining fake ID is illegal, a misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $200. Since bar owners will be faced with the sticky problem of sorting out the underage drinkers at the door, some have said they’ll be hiring off-duty police officers or private security guards to handle upset patrons trying to get in with the bogus cards.

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