A Tuscaloosa police officer said that one major difficulty in enforcing laws that govern the legal age for drinking are the fake ID cards that can be purchased online for about $300. He said that more fake IDs are collected by local bars than by law enforcement officers. Dozens are confiscated on a weekly basis in Tuscaloosa. Some of the IDs can even fool scanners. The fine for having a fake ID has recently been increased by $100. The Tuscaloosa Police Department is currently working with the University of Alabama to curb the use of fake IDs.
In some states penalties for the use of fake IDs can include not only fines but imprisonment. USA Today College‘s article “Fake IDs can be a real problem” by Eliza Collins reported:
In Ohio, possession of a fraudulent ID can earn six months in prison and up to a $1,000 fine.
Possession of a fake Illinois driver’s license or ID card is punishable by up to three years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines, according to the Illinois Liquor Control Commission. Knowingly lending a real ID to someone else can earn the lender up to a year in jail and $2,500 in fines.
Collins wrote that Her Campus found that 54.5% of readers surveyed had or currently have a fake ID.
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Tuscaloosa has a problem with both restaurants in bars that cater to University of Alabama students. Most University students are minors. Many of the establishments in downtown Tuscaloosa have a clientele that consists largely of students. There is a legal loophole that allows nineteen and twenty year-olds to enter bars. Even diligently carding patrons may not be effective in preventing minors from buying liquor.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism described the conditions where alcohol abuse is more likely to occur:
sororities and lowest among commuting students who live with their families.
Alcohol Policy MD has described the problem in enforcing regulations on alcohol use:
In many states throughout the country, minors – those under the legal drinking age of 21 – are permitted in bars unaccompanied by an adult. State and local regulations vary widely in the extent to which they permit minors to enter on-sale retail alcohol outlets
One thing is clear: allowing minors into drinking establishments such as bars and nightclubs is, in the words of one enforcement official, “a regulator’s nightmare.” (Inspector General 1991). It creates numerous difficulties for servers, who must conduct repeated identification checks and continuously track who is actually drinking the beverages being served. It allows minors to consume alcohol purchased from older individuals. And it encourages minors to drink as a way to socialize and become one with their peers.
Underage college drinkers are more likely than their of-age counterparts to suffer consequences ranging from unplanned sex, getting hurt or injured, requiring medical treatment for an alcohol overdose, and doing something they would later regret. (Wechsler et al. 2000) These problems often have impacts not just on the drinkers, but on fellow students and area residents as well.
Fake IDs are a major problem in Tuscaloosa. Students who can spend hundreds of dollars on an undetectable, state of the art ID in order to illegally drink would likely not be deterred by fines. And they don’t face imprisonment, as is the case in some states.
Perhaps one way to curtail the use of fake IDs would be for the University of Alabama to impose a “one strike and you’re out” rule where any student caught with a fake ID would be automatically expelled.