It’s a Saturday night and the beginning of another weekend for DePaul University sophomore, Alex, a 19-year-old male student who wished to remain anonymous. Like clockwork, the weekend activities unfold as usual. First, a trip to his favorite liquor convenience store to purchase the much needed alcohol to satisfy both himself and his friends. Though the alcohol is pricier than at other stores, Alex doesn’t mind shelling out a couple of extra bucks. They rarely ask to see his ID anymore, given that he is a regular there, going at least once a weekend, sometimes twice.
Videos Abc News Abc Abc News Videos Alex stocks up on handles of overpriced liquor that he will later put in the freezer back at his apartment. Bottles of vodka and tequila chill until they are later quickly consumed.
Abc Abc News Videos News Videos Abc Once people begin to pile into his apartment it becomes open season. The suction noise of the freezer doors being opened and closed can be heard amongst giggles and loud music. Plastic cups fill up the already crowded apartment between the groups of students.
One small piece of plastic is all that it takes.
Alex’s state ID has a hologram on it, and from a quick glance looks like any other ID you might obtain at the DMV. A longer look reveals that the photo is slightly stretched; the plastic is flimsy, almost breakable. The signature looks slanted or misplaced. The state imprinted on the ID is Michigan. The age, 22.
Abc News Abc News Abc Videos Videos According to an email sent out by DePaul Campus Public Safety Nov. 5, 2014, recent cases of underage drinking and an increase in student misconduct has heightened campus and police efforts to catch students with fake IDs. The email said, “As part of its ongoing efforts to prevent underage drinking this fall, CPD, in conjunction with the Secretary of State Police, are conducting bar sweeps in the Lincoln Park area, aggressively pursuing patrons carrying fake IDs and bars around the DePaul campus that serve underage drinkers as well as businesses, such as convenience stores and liquor stores, selling packaged goods.”
According to DePaul Public Safety Director Robert Wachowski, the 2014-15 academic year has already had multiple cases of reckless student conduct attributed to alcohol, as well as an increase in students needing to seek medical help attention for alcohol related injuries.
“It’s a safety issue,” Wachowski said., “Just in one Thursday alone in at the beginning of the year there were seven students taken to the hospital.” Though the safety of students is a main concern for Public Safety, their jurisdiction is limited to residence halls and the DePaul campus. However, that does not mean DePaul has little power within its own jurisdiction.
Sara and Lindsay, both 19-year-old female DePaul students who preferred to remain anonymous, paid the price for being caught with fake IDs while on DePaul’s campus.
Early into their freshmen year, Sara and Lindsay were encouraged by fellow floor mates to enter into a group deal for fake IDs.
“A girl down the hall was ordering them off a website and was like, ‘Give me money, we’ll take a picture and you’ll get an ID in a couple of weeks,’” Sara said.
“Winter break went by, and we figured we had gotten scammed. The next thing we knew, we received emails telling us we were being reviewed for judicial review,” Sara said.
Both girls were among 20 other students who received two years of probation with the discovery of the fake IDs.
In the state of Illinois, using, obtaining or distributing fake IDs is illegal. According to dontbesorry.org, an organization committed to educating underage students on the penalties of having a fake ID, penalties include, but are not limited to revoked driving privileges, hefty fines and even possible jail time.
Using a fraudulent ID is classified as a Class 4 felony and can carry a sentence of between one to three years, or probation coupled with fines up to $25,000.
So, why do students get a fake ID when the consequences are potentially life-changing?
Though DePaul’s location in the heart of Chicago introduces students to attending and living at a school in an urban setting, entertainment options, such as going to bars or concerts, are limited to those under 21.
This has created a fake ID culture at DePaul. As a result, many students think a fake is the only way to experience college life in the city.
Despite the possible legal consequences, finding “a guy” who will mass produce fake IDs is easy. Finding students willing to shell out $80 to $100 for one is even easier.
Students today are wiser, quicker and have found loopholes in the system designed to catch them in the act. In other words, for Alex, the party goes on.
According to Alex, he purchased his fake ID at the start of his freshman year with a group of floor mates. If more students went in on the deal, the price of the IDs would have been cheaper.
“One of my friends had a connection with a guy and she had the number for him, but I was kind of worried. I didn’t want to meet up with a random stranger to get a fake ID,” Alex said.
They purchased their IDs in a deal with each costing $80. Since then, Alex has used his fake ID to get into bars around the Lincoln Park area, including Bar Forza located at 2476 N. Lincoln Ave.
“Bar Forza is definitely an underage bar,” he said. “During my freshman year, you couldn’t go a weekend without running into a bunch of freshmen there.”
According to Alex, Bar Forza was one of the bars that accepted fake IDs, often not even carding female students.
Now that he is no longer living in the residential halls, Alex mostly uses his fake ID to buy alcohol for himself and his friends. To avoid getting caught with his fake ID, Alex takes precautionary measures.
“I would never use it downtown, near campus or at a grocery store,” he said. He avoids places too near or far from campus. He has yet to stray far after establishing his loyalty at his current liquor store.
According to 20-year-old DePaul sophomore, Jake (a male student who preferred to remain anonymous), felonies are rare when being caught with a fake ID. Often the most common punishment is simply getting it taken away.
“Most people don’t want to give college kids felonies. They would rather take it so you can’t use it, and they won’t be liable,” Jake said.
For 1000 Liquors, a liquor store located at 1000 W. Belmont Ave., just a couple blocks away from DePaul University’s Lincoln Park Campus, taking away the fake ID is the solution to decreasing the amount of students with them.
According to a 1000 Liquors employee who wished to remain anonymous, their procedure dictated that they typically take away and dispose of the IDs.
“We know it’s fake. We take it and discharge it. I can’t give it back. Kids will try to bribe us to give it back to them, but usually when we confiscate it, and they complain, it’s like, ‘We can either keep it or call the police.’ Then they just leave,” he said.
According to the liquor store employee, 1000 Liquors typically sees about five to six students with fake IDs each weekend. A few of those cases causing them to call the police or take stronger legal measures.
Because of liquor stores and bars confiscating the fake IDs and calling it a solution, some students think that it is not enough to stop the use of fake IDs and underage drinking. A law is only as powerful as its enforcement, and according to Alex, the enforcement is not effective in stopping him.
“If I got my ID taken away, I would immediately get another one. I don’t really see trying to crack down on the IDs as important as they make it,” he said.
According to Alex, if DePaul wanted to limit the amount of students using fake IDs to buy alcohol, harsh punishments would not be the solution. Though bar raids and strict enforcement cracks downs on students with fake IDs are ongoing, there is a way around them.
“On the social media app Yik Yak, people will post what bars are getting raided,” Alex said. “If you don’t have one or get it taken away, I don’t think that it affects you socially, because you likely have a friend who has one and will buy alcohol for you,” he said.
For the underage students at DePaul University, DePaul’s strict punishment for students caught with fake IDs has created a “just don’t get caught” mentality, causing more caution with use rather than a decline in use.
“DePaul definitely knows that people have fakes. Freshman year is the prime time. You get the pool together, and pay $80 for some IDs. Everyone has a fake, and if they don’t, they know someone close to them that does,” Alex said.