Fake ID Q&A with UI Student

I interviewed a University of Iowa student about his fake ID use.  To protect him from legal ramifications, I have not included his name.  To read the full stories on fake ID use in Iowa City or bar crawls in Iowa City, click on the links at the end of this article.

By Kristin Schiller

Thanks for agreeing to talk with me today.  I just have a few questions.  First, how long did you use your fake ID?

I used it from about one month into my freshman year of college until I turned 20 years old.

Why did you stop using it?

I stopped using it because I moved to Cedar Rapids and started going to the bars there.  In Cedar Rapids, they never even checked my ID so it was unnecessary.

Did you ever get caught or have negative consequences from using your fake ID?

No, I did not.  And I’m lucky.  Those fines are outrageous.

How easy was it for you to get a fake ID?

When I was a freshman one of the guys living on my floor in the dorm made fake IDs and I knew him pretty well.  All he had to do was take my picture and have me sign on a piece of paper.  The process only took about half an hour.  I gave him my money and two and a half weeks later I had a fake ID.

How much did it cost you?


Once he had your picture and signature, what was included in the process for making the final fake ID?

The middleman takes your picture and signature and he puts them into a computer program.  On that same program, he matches the graphics and holograms from an actual state ID.  After he combines the graphics with the picture and signature, he sends it to a company and the company prints off the combined graphics onto a blank ID and sends the final product back to the middleman.

How long does that process usually take?

It usually takes two to three weeks.  I got mine in about two and a half weeks.

Are you able to be a part of this process?  How much input do you get?

I was able to choose which state’s hologram I wanted but once it was sent to the company, I didn’t know what status the process was in until I received the ID from the middleman.

How is the company able to allow actual state graphics to go on an ID they know isn’t real?

See, here’s the trick.  They make minor changes which are barely noticeable to most people.  They don’t actually put the real holograms and graphics onto an ID without these minor changes because there is a steep penalty if they are caught helping out kids who want fake IDs.  But most people, like bouncers, who are checking IDs don’t know the real states’ graphics or what the difference is on the fake ones.  It’s genius.

So it’s a company who makes real IDs too?

Yes.  Obviously not every place will do it but if you know someone who is working there, they can help you out.

How often and under what circumstances did you use your fake ID?

I used my fake [ID] whenever I was going to the bars in Iowa City or when I was buying alcohol in Iowa City at a liquor store.

Under what circumstances would you not use your fake ID?

I would not use my fake [ID] if there were cops close to me or if a liquor store had an ID card reader.  It’s a lot easier to get caught with it in those circumstances.

Do you think more people are using fake IDs because of the 21 ordinance?

Yes.  While I do think a lot more underage kids are now drinking at house parties then there were before the 21 ordinance, the ones who decide to go downtown are either buying IDs from someone they know or using an ID from a friend who is 21.  There is no other way to get into the bars and drink with their friends who are of age.  Having a fake ID is becoming the only way underage kids are able to drink and  I don’t see how there couldn’t be a rise in [fake ID] use.

Thanks again for agreeing to talk with me.

For more information, visit Fake ID Use in Iowa City: On the Rise?, Iowa City Bar Crawls, or go back to the package’s main page.


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