Archive for the ‘Fake IDs’ Tag

Iowa City Drinking Culture

By Kristin Schiller

University of Iowa student walking downtown Photo by Kristin Schiller

Iowa City has a distinct drinking culture.  It is unique in that campus and downtown are essentially side-by-side.  While numerous articles have been written regarding alcohol consumption in Iowa City, I attempt to show new angles of University of Iowa students’ drinking behaviors through stories about fake ID use in Iowa City, local bar crawls, and an interview with a UI student about fake IDs.  To protect students from legal ramifications, many names have been left out.


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.

Fake ID Use in Iowa City: On The Rise?

By: Kristin Schiller

It is 11:32 p.m. on a Saturday on the pedmall and a University of Iowa student stands in line at Brothers bar using an ID he bought from another student.

The student, who ventured downtown with other students under 21 years old, isn’t an anomaly.  He is one of several UI students who has purchased a fake ID.

Underage student walking downtown with her fake ID. Photo by Kristin Schiller

The sophomore uses his fake ID whenever he goes to the bars in Iowa City or when he wants to buy alcohol at liquor stores.

“The only time I don’t use my [fake ID] is when there are cops near me,” said the 6 foot 3 inch student, who said fake ID use was on the rise.  He cited the 21 ordinance as the cause.

The 21 ordinance, enacted on June 1, 2010, denies people under the legal drinking age of 21 from being in bars in Iowa City after 10 p.m.

Police Reaction

While many students said they have noticed more people using fake IDs, Iowa City Police said they have seen a decrease in the use of fake IDs.  Police documents support this.  Records indicate only slight fluctuations in fake ID charges, but it is roughly the same from September 2008 to September 2010.  University of Iowa police records reflect the same findings.

While the numbers are similar to the past, the Iowa City Police Department says the numbers are still higher than what they want.  In fact, hundreds of confiscated IDs overflow gallon buckets inside the police station labeled “male,” “female” and “out-of-state.”

Local Business Owners

Local business owners also have not noticed any significant increases in fake ID use.

Doug Alberhasky, manager of John’s grocery, said he has seen a decline in the number of fake IDs.  John’s grocery employees check the IDs of anyone who look under 30 years old.  They use a card reader to test for authenticity.

As he stood inside Brothers Bar, the University of Iowa student said he would not attempt to use his fake ID at John’s Grocery.

“They are more serious than other places,” said the student. “I’d more likely get caught [at John’s Grocery] than at the bars.”

Other Student Opinions

Several students said fake ID use could be down because of the increase in house parties.  Sophomore Niusha Tavakoli said students are more likely to be at house parties than attempting to use a fake ID in a downtown bar.  Since the penalty for being in a bar underage is so high, most people aren’t risking it, she said.

“Most of my friends hang out at a house and play beer pong,” said Tavakoli.  “It’s more personal and we don’t have any issues with getting caught.”

If the 21 ordinance were to be reversed, Tavakoli said she would go downtown even though she is not yet 21 years old.

“I’d be more willing to take the chance,” said the 19-year-old.

Selling Fake IDs

One UI student who sells fake IDs said he saw a slight rise in sales but nothing significant.  Since the 21 ordinance took effect, the student-who wished to remain anonymous because of legal ramifications-said he saw a spike in sales during the first few weeks of class but those are always his busiest weeks.  That’s when new freshman come into town.

“[Freshmen] are always excited at first,” said the anonymous student. “Then they get their first ticket.  That’s when they finally slow down.”

Legal Fines

Possession of a fictitious ID carries one of the toughest penalties associated with trying to get into a bar.  According to Iowa City lawyer Mark Thompson, the penalty can be up to one year in jail and a fine up to $1,875. Fictitious IDs are ordered via the internet and not manufactured by an appropriate state authority.  Mere possession of this type of ID is a crime.

Possession of a fake ID, however, is not the only crime of which a person can be accused.  Misuse of a Driver’s License is also very common.  It occurs when a person uses another person’s ID in any fashion, representing it as their own.  Iowa City Police say this is a common charge for people who participate in bar crawls.  Thompson said it is only illegal to use someone else’s ID, not to possess it.  Conviction of this crime includes a small fine and no jail time.

A third crime associated with attempting to purchase alcohol underage is Misuse of a Driver’s License for the Purpose of Obtaining Alcohol.  Similar to the initial Misuse of a Driver’s License, this crime would include a small fine and no jail time.  The offender’s license, however, could be suspended for up to 7 months.

A University of Iowa freshman, who also chose to remain anonymous, said he uses his older brother’s old ID.

“I look just like him and the bouncers in Iowa City don’t know it’s not me,” said the freshman.  “A lot of my friends do the same thing.”

In fact, most of the freshman I talked to either didn’t have a fake ID or used someone’s ID who they knew.

“It’s convenient,” said one student.  “I don’t have to spend any money [on a fake ID] and I haven’t gotten into trouble yet.”

Producing Fake IDs

While many people do opt for using a friend or family member’s IDs, others still pay a small fee for a fake one.

The UI student who sells IDs also produces them.  He said people give him $60 before he takes their pictures.  Then the customers sign their autograph on a piece of paper.  Next, they put the picture and signature into a computer program.  On that platform, they match the graphics and holograms from an actual state ID.  After this process is complete, they send the information to a company who prints it off and sends it back. Two weeks later, they have their fake IDs.

“It is a fairly simple process and has gotten a lot easier over the years,” said the UI student.

Other people who sell fake IDs may do it differently, but according to the student, this is the most modern method.

The anonymous student said he didn’t think the upcoming vote on the 21 ordinance would greatly affect the sale of fake IDs.

“It will never stop.  People will always use fake IDs no matter what happens with the 21 ordinance.”

For more information visit Fake ID Q&A with UI Student, Iowa City Bar Crawls, or go back to the package’s main page.