Downtown Tempe district sees an increase of fake IDs collected in 2013
Security at Cue Club on Mill Avenue checks the authenticity of a driver’s license on Friday, April 12. The bar has one of the highest rates for catching fake IDs on Mill Avenue. (Photo by Molly J. Smith)
Turning 21 and going out to Mill Avenue is a rite of passage for many ASU students. However many students are finding it hard to wait, and police say the number of fake IDs collected has increased over the past year.
But out of the nearly 2,000 fake IDs collected by licensed liquor establishments in downtown Tempe during 2013, actual forged IDs are the minority, according to police.
Instead, the IDs are legitimate but stolen or borrowed from someone else, Tempe Police spokeswoman Molly Enright said.
“The majority of fraudulently used and seized IDs are authentic, but may have been stolen — in a majority of cases, they have been borrowed from a 21 or older friend or sibling,” Enright said.
Jeff Franks, head of security at Gringo-Star Street Bar on Mill Avenue, agrees. More than 90 percent of the IDs the bar confiscates are real IDs that someone is trying to pass off as them, he said.
The number of fake IDs confiscated in the Tempe Downtown District rose over 13 percent from the 1,761 IDs collected in 2012.
Franks, from his experience, believes the rise in seized IDs is because 21-year-olds are more willing now than ever to pass along their IDs and personal information to underage friends.
“Friends will be like, ‘Oh, this looks like you’ and hand off an ID,” Franks said. “When you know what to look for, it makes it a lot easier to distinguish.”
Franks said security looks at a lot more than just hair color and height.
So what is security looking at to determine if someone is using a fake ID?
“Unique stuff, checking the shape of the eye, checking the inside of the ear, checking the hairline,” Franks said.
Tempe Police also provides liquor establishments with basic training, current trends and tips to identify fake IDs, Enright said.
Franks said many of the bouncers at Gringo-Star have years of experience at other bars on Mill Avenue and in Scottsdale.
On any given night, his bouncers usually confiscate anywhere from five to six IDs, Franks said.
“On St. Patrick’s Day one of my door guys individually took 14 IDs,” he said.
If a bouncer suspects someone is using a fake ID, they might ask a series of questions to try to catch them off guard. It’s also common for a bouncer to ask for a second form of identification or ask you to pull up your Facebook, Franks said.
Arizona law allows liquor establishments to hold on to an ID. Franks said if the person wants it back, we give them the option to get the police involved to verify it belongs to that person.
If caught by authorities, a person using a fake ID can be arrested and fined.
In Arizona, using someone else’s ID is a class one misdemeanor and punishable with a $2,500 fine and up to six months in jail; offenders can also lose their license or identification card for up to six months, according to state law.
Shannon, a 21-year-old interdisciplinary studies junior, used fake IDs many times before she was of age but said she was lucky enough to never face any serious consequences.
“I’ve probably had around 16 different IDs and most of them I got from older friends,“ she said. “Only three were actual fraudulent IDs.”
She said in most cases she was able to also get a second form of ID such as an old debit card or health care cards in case the bouncer asked for one.
Whenever she got an ID taken, she said she would just ask another older friend for their ID.
“In hindsight, I really could have gotten in serious trouble that would have affected my future, and it’s worth waiting until your 21st birthday,” she said. “There are many other things to do when you’re underage, and it is just not worth it.”
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