By Kara Hallam
Coppell High School student *Amanda reaches for a pair of scissors to cut her fake ID in half and throws it away in a moment of inspiration. For *Amanda, this was the end of her fake ID phase, but for many Coppell High School students to come this is just the beginning of their journey through the underground world of fake IDs.
In Texas, the legal drinking age is 21. However, fake IDs offer a way for some CHS students to get around this policy.
“This all boils down to something deeper; why kids are buying alcohol. They are getting drunk as some sort of sport to lose themselves in a self destructive way,” CHS junior Nick Shelton said.
Card Photo com Complete System Amazon Id Alphacard Compass Printer Shelton knows students who got their fake IDs from a novelty ID shop 30 minutes away. Coincidentally, this novelty ID shop is the exact same place students got their fake IDs from years ago according to *Katherine.
“I got mine from [a novelty ID shop] with friends. They were two for $85 so it was basically a really good deal since usually only one is that much,” *Katherine said.
*Katherine is an alumni of CHS who graduated within the past 10 years.
At this shop a customer would walk in and find themselves in a large almost empty room except for two tables and a shack-like box. On the tables are sheets to fill out that ask what information a customer wants put on the card.
The customer walks up to the shack-like box with thick glass windows and slips the information sheet through a small slot to the employee who communicates with the customer through a microphone and speaker. Next, the customer hands the employee money through the slot and the card is printed with the information on the sheet given.
“I was at an overnight school competition and my teammates and I wanted alcohol because everyone else was drinking. I had the ID so we went across these railroad tracks from our hotel to a gas station and I bought beer. The cameras in the gas stations are there to make sure employees check IDs so whether it was fake or not really did not matter to employees,” *Katherine said.
Students today use their IDs at gas stations and liquor stores on the outskirts of towns like Lewisville, Dallas and Grapevine. The novelty IDs are said to be magnetically encoded and able to pass the scanners at bars but there is no guarantee which ones they work on and which ones they do not.
“I had heard stories from my friends and they knew which places to go to so you would not get caught. I figured if someone did catch on I could just run away or awkwardly leave,” *Amanda said.
*Amanda and her friends will wear college T-shirts to pass themselves off as college students.
“These IDs look real. We cannot always stop the crime but we can try to prevent it by educating students on things like underage drinking and fake IDs,” Student Resource Officer Rachel Freeman said.
These IDs violate the Fictitious License or Certificate law in which a person under 21 possesses an ID which states they are 21 and does not contain the words “NOT A GOVERNMENT DOCUMENT” on both the front and back of the card.However, in less than 15 minutes this disclaimer can be removed with nail polish remover and has been able to be passed off as a real ID to buy alcohol with.
“The disclaimer protects the business, but it does not protect the customer,” Freeman said.
Some bars and liquor stores have tried to get a hold on the situation. In fact, *Katherine’s ID was taken up by a gas station.
“When you work in the bar business long enough you learn that IDs have a certain feel and you can tell when it doesn’t feel right,” Mucky Duck bartender Shaun Kelley said.
Kelley looked at the same ID that Freeman did and easily found the differences between this ID and a real one. The ID would not pass because it claims to be issued a year ago although it looks new and is not worn. The photo is not clear on it and it is thicker than real IDs are.
Those caught using a fake ID at the Mucky Duck get the card back but are removed from the premises. By state law, they cannot confiscate the ID because only law enforcement is entitled to do so.
The students who have been able to buy alcohol with fake IDs have either easily fooled naive cashiers or the cashiers have compromised integrity just to make a sale or not cause any trouble.
However, there still are many liquor sellers who are able to catch those using fake IDs. Not only was *Katherine’s ID confiscated by a gas station when she tried to buy liquor there but her parents also found out about it too.
“When *Katherine was in high school we were very naive. There were a lot of things we did not find out about until years after high school and they all just came out one by one. I was disappointed in *Katherine but she is not a bad person for these mistakes,” *Katherine’s mother said.
The use of fake IDs cannot be completely prevented and students will continue to buy alcohol with them. *Amanda, offers some hope though, by putting a stop to her fake ID use on her own when she saw the harms it was doing to herself.
“At first it was just for fun with friends, just messing around, but once i got to high school it became a means of escape and a ‘good time’, or in other words I could just get drunk and forget everything,” *Amanda said.
*Amanda went to several parties with students from other high schools. Usually they provided the alcohol but once she got a homemade ID from a teen she met at a party, she started buying alcohol on her own.
“For a long time you could say I was stuck, stuck in the cycle of alcohol. I just wanted to be happy, so I drank, but it made it worse and so I would drink more, just trying to get by and it just kept going and going, Drinking is much more normalized so there is not necessarily peer pressure to drink it is just a normal thing to do,” *Amanda said.
Underage drinkers must keep in mind the use of fake IDs not only risks being criminally prosecuted but it also can risk one’s health.
“Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, it alters neurotransmitters in the brain. It can cause grogginess, euphoria and forgetfulness,” Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at University of Texas Southwestern Jessica Sharry Williams said.
Drinking for emotional reasons like *Amanda can lead to alcoholism faster than drinking for fun can. Like Freeman, Williams recommends education as the best method of prevention for underage drinking.
*Amanda was able to prevent these health risks by throwing away her fake ID and not going to parties with alcohol. Now she is happier and healthier, but most importantly once she realized the possible consequences she ended her drinking phase by choice before she got caught unlike *Katherine and one of Shelton’s friends.
“When you stop drinking you will find your real friends. They are not going to be the ones trying to get you drunk because that drunk person is a fake version of you just as fake as the person on your ID. You create that you through alcohol because you think it is a happier you, but it is not really you. The real you is the one your real friends want,” *Amanda said.
*-indicates name change for confidentiality