Fake ID Policies

Impact Score18
Students Impacted30%

What are fake ID policies?

Many college students use false identifications (fake IDs) to purchase alcohol illegally. These forms of identification falsely state that people are of the legal drinking age, either by changing their actual date of birth to an earlier one, or by altering their identity entirely. Some students may use the identification of an older person who looks like them in order to purchase alcohol.

All states prohibit the use of fake IDs to purchase alcohol, though penalties may vary by state. For using a fake ID, an individual can endure legal penalties, such the suspension of one’s driver’s license (“Fake ID,” n.d.). According to the Alcohol Policy Information System (APIS), many states have adopted several legal provisions pertaining to the use of fake IDs to purchase alcohol. There are legal provisions targeting minors who possess and use fake IDs to purchase alcohol, and there are provisions targeting individuals who supply minors with fake IDs, either by lending a valid ID or producing an invalid one. There are also legal provisions that support retailers to avoid selling alcohol to people who possess fake IDs (“False Identification for Obtaining Alcohol,” 2008).

In a student survey at a large state university, 46% of minor students surveyed indicated they had used a fake ID to obtain alcohol. Of these, 70% were affiliated with a Greek organization (Durkin & Wolfe, 1996), demonstrating the popular use of fake IDs among fraternity and sorority members.

Using fake IDs has also been demonstrated to be associated with heavy alcohol consumption. One study demonstrates that fake ID ownership predicts concurrent and next-semester heavy drinking (Martinez et al., 2007). Durkin & Wolfe (1996) also found drinking frequency to be strongly associated with reported use of fake IDs.

Research findings

There has been limited research conducted on the efficacy of fake ID policies to reduce underage consumption. However, in a recent meta-analysis of the efficacy of 14 expanded minimum legal drinking age (MLDA) laws, the presence of a False ID Use law was the only policy found to be associated with reductions in underage drinking drivers involved in fatal crashes (Fell et al., 2008). Importantly, this analysis compared states with fake ID laws against those without, regardless of their enforcement. This research demonstrates the need for campuses to support more stringent policies regarding fake ID use and increased enforcement of these laws.

Issues and considerations

In order to address the use of fake IDs, institutions may increase ID checks at campus events where alcohol is served. Student organizations that host events where alcohol is served, such as fraternities and sororities, must also be aware of the consequences of fake ID-use and know how to identify false forms of identification.

Campus administrators and community coalitions can also work with local police to ramp up enforcement of fake ID-use in the local community. Requiring responsible beverage service (RBS) training for both on- and off- campus bars and retailers is one way to increase awareness and enforcement around the use of fake IDs (“Developing Campus Policies and Enforcing Laws,” n.d.).

Developing Campus Policies and Enforcing Laws (n.d.). The Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse and Violence Prevention. Retrieved August 10, 2009 from http://www.higheredcenter.org/environmental-management/change/policy.

Durkin, K., & Wolfe, T. (1996, Winter96). College students’ use of fraudulent identification to obtain alcohol: An exploratory analysis. Journal of Alcohol & Drug Education, 41(2), 92.

Fake ID, (n.d.). Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). Retrieved August 10, 2009 from http://www.madd.org/Drunk-Driving/Drunk-Driving/laws/law.aspx?law=16.

False Identification for Obtaining Alcohol (2008). Alcohol Policy Information System. Retrieved August 10, 2009 from http://www.alcoholpolicy.niaaa.nih.gov/index.asp?SEC={E8988D1D-B915-4133-808E-23443EF43867}&Type=BAS_APIS.

Fell, J.C., Fisher, D.A., Voas, R.B., Blackman, K. & Tippetts, A.S.(July, 2008). The relationship of underage drinking laws to reductions in drinking drivers in fatal crashes in the United States. Accident Analysis & Prevention, 40(4), 1430-1440.

Martinez, J. A., Rutledge, P. C., & Sher, K. J. (2007). Fake ID ownership and heavy drinking in underage college students: Prospective findings. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 21(2), 226-232.