Jack and Jim have your back. They tell you to talk to the cutie at the bar and convince you that you actually can dance. They’re the best buds you could ever ask for.
Until you get caught trying to buy a fifth of Jack with a fake ID. Suddenly, you’ve committed a felony in the third degree and are suffering legal fees higher than a semester’s tuition.
The Internet has made underage drinking both feasible and profitable. Hordes of people have begun marketing themselves as vendors who offer their services to create novelty IDs using information given to them by underage individuals.
“All you gotta do is buy the machine, take a picture, put the information on it and you’re good to go,” said Elvis Diaz, an Aerospace engineering major.
Students caught with fake IDs can face legal and criminal consequences, as well as disciplinary action from UCF such as academic probation and termination of an on-campus lease. While Diaz has never made fake IDs himself, he knows some people who have gone into the business.
The UCF Police Department warns that the creators of these fake IDs aren’t immune to the consequences.
“All sorts of different punishments that could come from that phase that would affect you more as a student,” said Courtney Gilmartin, a UCF police spokeswoman.
If an underage drinker chooses to go down the novelty ID route, they choose which state their fake is made from. College towns are so used to seeing students from all over the country, it’s not strange to have students from one state visiting a bar in another, making fakes harder to spot. Once the state’s been picked, personal information such as your name, height, address, hair color and a headshot is entered into a vendor’s website. Novelty IDs typically cost between $40 and $200.
“The ease with the Internet of going online and going to one of a million sites and being able to send your information there and not ever having to leave your room and have [the fake ID] sent back, I think that makes it a lot more accessible to a lot more students,” said Sgt. James Mangan of the UCF Police Department.
To address underage drinking around campus, UCF police established a joint-enforcement detail known as SNAP, which stands for the Sector II Noise and Alcohol Patrol, with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office in April.
According to recent SNAP data provided by Gilmartin, 107 people under 21-years-old were charged with alcohol possession near UCF between April and September. However, it’s unclear how many of these charges involved a fake ID.
“Just in one night we got 10 fake IDs, and just looking through some of them might be somebody else’s ID, but then you can see clearly like bad [novelty IDs] so it’s a good mixture of the two,” Mangan said. “It’s not about ruining somebody’s time or preventing somebody from having fun, but when you mix inexperienced drinkers with people with no life experience that sets them up for failure.”
Not everywhere in the UCF area is feeling the heat from police over fake IDs. Brian Stevens, a Bar Louie bartender, said that he has never seen a fake ID at his bar, but that could be thanks to the bar’s $10 martinis.
Knights Pub, the 7-11 on University and Dean and University Wine and Spirits declined to comment on the number of fake IDs they see on average.
Marissa Mahoney is a contributing writer for the Central Florida Future.