Hefty fines and other penalties may not be enough to deter some students at West Virginia University and the surrounding areas from using fake IDs.
University Police Chief Bob Roberts said students who get caught using fake identification are subject to paying hundreds of dollars in fines.
Campus police can cite students for presenting false IDs, but they normally send students to the judicial system and fines can be costly. Roberts said court costs alone are about $168.
Roberts said most students of drinking age don’t realize the consequences of giving their driver’s license to someone else.
“If you give someone your ID and it’s a valid driver’s license, we can send the card to the state, and they can revoke your driver’s license,” Roberts said.
Fake IDs are prevalent in any college town, Morgantown included, and Roberts said they became a larger issue when the drinking age was raised from 18 to 21 years old.
“We probably encounter hundreds a year. It’s hard to say,” Roberts said. “But I’m sure there are a lot of students who are using them.”
Roberts said it’s unclear to him whether students realize the potential consequences of using false ID or if they simply don’t care they may receive punishment.
“They’re using them to get into bars and using them to buy alcohol, so they know what they’re doing,” Roberts said. “Now with the Internet, it’s much easier to get them because you can buy them on (there) now. “I think (they) better understand what the consequences can be. If you’re willing to pay the price, then you understand the risk you’re taking, but I would suggest not taking those risks.”
Alex Bernstein, a senior marketing student, said he used a fake ID he bought online when he was 19 years old.
Bernstein said he mainly used the ID to buy alcohol but would also use it to get into clubs and bars downtown occasionally, as well.
“I was worried, but I knew that the consequences are not that bad, because no one reports fakes in this town from what I’ve heard,” Bernstein said. “I was just worried about being rejected.”
Bernstein said of all the times he used the fake ID while he was underage, he was only rejected twice.
“It definitely made being underage at WVU a lot easier,” Bernstein said.
“I was here during the summer after (my) freshman year, and I was able to buy beer on my own when everyone was out of town.”
Although some liquor store employees let fake IDs slide, Rhea Cline, a senior business student and employee at Ashebrooke Liquor Outlet, said she has turned away more than 100 people for using fakes.
“When I first started (at Ashebrooke) I didn’t know what a fake looked like but now that I know and I’ve seen so many IDs, I can catch pretty much every state’s fake ID,” Cline said.
Cline said she doesn’t take away any IDs, but whenever she thinks the ID might be fake, she refuses to let the customer purchase alcohol.
Cline said because students from all over the United States come to Morgantown, she became familiar with all different kinds of IDs.
“We know what to look for, and we’ve seen so many IDs. Especially because we’re in between so many states, when someone comes in with a fake Maryland ID, we know immediately that it’s not real,” Cline said.
Any person found guilty of using a fake ID or giving someone their driver’s license can be subject to a fine up to $500, according to the Morgantown City Code.