For all those under 21, the question has inevitably arisen: Should I get a fake ID? Of course, the answer depends entirely on you and what you’re interested in. Here are some things to consider for those that are contemplating whether or not getting a fake is worth it. For those of you that already have a fake, advice on how to not to lose it after the break.
None of my friends have a fake, or are planning on getting one.
If this is the case, your fake ID is only going to make you restless. Chances are that you’re not going to be hitting up bars by yourself, so think about waiting to buy an ID until your friends are ready—you can also go for a group discount this way, too. There’s a counter-argument for this, however: It really sucks to be the only person without a fake ID. Depending on what you and your friends usually do, whether your friends are already 21 or “21,” you might need to find a new crowd to hang out with, or spend a lot of nights inside without a fake ID.
You can use your fake for things that have nothing to do with alcohol.
A lot of places besides bars in New York have age restrictions. While this can be a huge bummer, you’ll appreciate it when you’re 21 and the places that you want to hang out aren’t flooded with high-schoolers and college freshmen. Telling the bouncer that you want to go in but you’re not planning on drinking isn’t going to work the majority of the time because it makes the whole point of a bouncer kind of pointless. How does it help a venue be exclusive or lucrative if they let in anyone under 21? Whether you’re just looking to hang out, get into the music scene, go clubbing, or ride a mechanical bull, you’ll probably need a fake ID.
Moral hesitations aside, there is a possibility that you could end up in pretty serious trouble for having a fake ID. So what are the risks, exactly? In New York City, it seems to be uncommon to be persecuted for a fake ID, however, this varies from state to state so you might want to be careful if you use your fake in your hometown. Of course, you could also be prosecuted differently if you already have a criminal record. According to the New York State Penal Code, criminal possession of a forged instrument and forgery in either the 2nd or 3rd degree are regarded as class A misdemeanors or class D felonies, which could lead to up to a $1,000 fine. Using an older friend or sibling’s ID? That’s a class B misdemeanor, and up to a $500 fine.
It’s a lot of money.
If you’re planning on getting a new fake ID made for you, there’s no question that it will cost you. Fake IDs range from $65 to $150, and not everyone can afford to drop that kind of cash, especially for something that can be so easily taken away from you. If money is getting in your way, buying in groups usually comes with some kind of discount.
Get an ID from somewhere with good credentials.
If you really want to make sure that your ID is going to last, ask around. Unless for some reason you have some sort of weird authoritative vibe, pretty much anyone that has a fake will be open to talking about where they got their ID and their experiences. Some IDs don’t hold up under blacklights, and some don’t scan, which are really not as uncommon as you might think, so you want a good one for your money’s worth. Also, beware of “overserved” fake IDs. Manufacturers that make a lot of fake IDs that all have the same flaws will be easier for bouncers to identify. People usually have a good idea about how reliable their ID is, so if you’re not in a rush and not looking to buy another copy before your 21st, make sure you find a place through someone that hasn’t had too many problems.
Know your ID.
The trick about keeping your fake ID once you have it is being smart. Once you get one, ask if your manufacturer/distributer knows of the flaws in your fake (they might not tell you before you drop the cash, so ask afterwards if you want an honest answer). Certain IDs might be nearly immaculate except for certain flaws (e.g., the state seal isn’t in the hologram). The more you know, the more you will be able to be smart about when to whip out your cloak of age-invisibility.
Know about where you’re going.
If you’re dubious about your ID, always ask about how strict is the place you’re going, if you know someone who’s been there before. Spending a night inside might be worth $60 if your friends are going out somewhere that is notorious for taking away fake IDs. There are also certain situations where an actual cop might be working as a bouncer for a club or a bar, in which case the chances of them identifying your fake are high, so it is probably not worth the risk.
Only use your fake when it is absolutely necessary. Unless your age is a huge obstacle in having a good time, don’t risk it. If you can go into a venue or bar without using your fake, why bother? Never use your fake in place of your real license.
Always be honest.
If you’re caught, fess up. Don’t do anything to take advantage of the person that caught you, because they’re probably not stupid. Once you’re caught, there are three things that can happen: 1) you walk in or away with your fake ID, 2) you lose your fake ID and you walk away, 3) you get into a load of trouble. Insisting that your fake is real will only make you seem delusional and the person who caught you angry. Although in most cases you won’t get in trouble for getting caught with a fake ID in New York City (you’ll probably just lose it), you definitely don’t want to push your luck.
International IDs seem to be an interesting way around most of the risks of imitating US state IDs, especially because they wouldn’t scan or blacklight normally. These can be hard to find and probably harder to pull off.
Image courtesy of The Chicago Tribune
Disclaimer: The views of this piece are solely those of the author and not representative of the views of The Nine Ways of Knowing.