Author: Emily Jensen and Emma Parker
In the words of Founding Father and renowned inventor Benjamin Franklin, “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” Important people around the world have been adhering to this sentiment since prehistoric times. From the Greco-Roman god of wine and revelry, Dionysus, to Jesus Christ himself, one of whose most famous miracles was turning water into wine, history indicates that humankind has believed in the positive power of booze for a long time indeed.
But with great power comes great responsibility—the many tragedies and conflicts related to alcohol consumption have spurred legislation to keep its effects under control. And for Americans from the age of 18 to 21, that means a three year dry spell from the time they are declared adults to the time they can enjoy all the rights of an adult. In light of this restriction, not everyone is content to follow the law. We anonymously interviewed a few students who have taken action against the 21-and-over policy.
“I think it’s stupid that we can’t drink,” one student said. His circle of friends is overwhelmingly of-age, and he said he “would always get left out.” So he invested in a fake ID. “If it was more expensive, I wouldn’t have done it,” he said, but his $50 fake from a Mexican swap meet was just the right price. The process was simple—he arrived at the swap meet, got his picture taken, and 45 minutes later returned to pick up his new card. “At first glance it was good,” he remembers, but the ID, which he purchased in March, was confiscated last month. He shared some wisdom he’s gained from his experience:
“Bars are a bit more relaxed; they just glance at it. Bouncers are trained to look at California IDs. If your fake is out-of-state, it’s almost failsafe.” Another student can attest to this fact. His $40 Canadian fake, which he purchased at the age of 16, has never failed. “They can’t scan it here,” he said. He uses it mostly at clubs and grocery stores, and said it has been serving him well for years.
Another student who personally knows individuals who make and supply fakes shared details about how they are made. “They design everything on the computer.” A blank card goes through a special machine, and they laminate it with a picture. Special ink and multiple layers are required to create a realistic ID, including holograms and surface consistency.
“The cheapest IDs are $30-40,” he said. But he recommends splurging: “If you get caught, that’s bad. It’s a federal crime. The best fakes are $150-200-they look real and are scannable. They’re bulletproof.”
Though he’s never actually supplied fakes for Oxy students, he said he gets a lot of requests from other friends. When asked how he made his connections, he said, “You just ask around. Everybody knows somebody.”
But how effective is a fake when it’s put to the test? On a late-night Halloween excursion to Ralph’s grocery store, we inquired about underage liquor sales. Doreen Bennett, an Assistant Service Manager at the Ralph’s just outside Old Town Pasadena, answered our questions in a red leather vest and festive cowgirl hat.
“They don’t train us at all,” she said, the fringes of her vest swinging jovially. “You could hand me a fake ID right now and I probably wouldn’t know it.”
She said that they are required to ask for the ID of anyone who appears to be under the age of 30. “All we do is ask, look and enter it.” Bennett said that earlier that day she had visited the bank and saw a book showing all of the out-of-state IDs. While she thought such a reference would be beneficial for her establishment, she said that nothing of the sort was provided.
Certain that this lax policy couldn’t be the norm, we headed further up Colorado Boulevard to speak to a manager at the Yard House in Old Town Pasadena. Sure enough, the rules got stricter, not surprising for a business whose door handles are shaped like beer glasses.
The manager said that any out-of-state ID must be checked by a manager, and the same is true for passports. She said that they scan IDs that can be scanned and check that California driver’s licenses bend the right way. “Servers are trained to look at picture resemblance, date, expiry and a valid seal. The ID can’t be ripped or tattered.”
The Yard House turns down about 10 people every night for fake ID use, the manager said. “Younger people usually give up their IDs. They’re scared,” she said. The establishment does not often call the police, but it “depends on the situation.”
We also popped into Islands, another popular restaurant/bar right near the Yard House. They were clearly having a busy Halloween night, but the manager told us that his establishment has “pretty intense” guidelines for checking IDs. “I had to go to classes for it,” he said.
After investigating these more mainstream establishments in Old Town, we headed back in to Eagle Rock to investigate a liquor store. Following a yellow sign that proclaimed “Liquor Store,” we ended up at the Beverage Shop on Colorado. The cashier showed us the machine the store uses to scan IDs, and said that he also does a “hank check-up” to see how the ID bends and to make sure the surface feels how it should.
He then showed us a confiscated fake ID. We handled it as he explained how he knew that it was fake—it didn’t bend correctly and the barcode on the back didn’t have the right texture. He said that when the Beverage Shop encounters a fake ID, it is confiscated but the police are not called.
For detecting fake IDs, states issue a multitude of guidelines that alcohol-serving establishments must follow. Those who use fakes should be aware of just how many of these guidelines there are and how thorough businesses are required by law to be. The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (California ABC) does not list these guidelines on their website, but the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (Virginia ABC) does.
The Virginia ABC tells alcohol vendors to pay attention to the feel and look of the ID. “Feel for raised edges, glue lines or bumpy surfaces by the photo or birth date,” the website advises.
Other strategies include asking the ID holder for his or her zodiac sign or year of high school graduation. Additionally, asking the ID holder’s friend basic information about the ID holder can reveal if the ID is likely to be fake.
So knowing now that a fake ID may or may not work, what happens to people who get caught? The student who had his fake ID confiscated was lucky, because the consequences could have been much worse. The California ABC says the minimum fine for being caught with a fake ID is $250 and/or 24-32 hours of community service, plus a one-year suspension of the driver’s license. There are similar punishments for attempting to purchase alcohol, succeeding at illegally purchasing alcohol and possessing alcohol.
With the underground market of fake IDs thriving and a significant number of underage drinkers crowding college campuses, one wonders how long the controversy has been raging.
According to legislative analysis written by Alex Koroknay-Palicz, after Prohibition ended in 1933, the age for purchasing alcohol was set at 18 or 21, depending on the state and the type of alcohol. In the ’70s, with the nation’s youth sent to fight in Vietnam, nearly all states lowered the drinking age to 18. The logic, Koroknay-Palicz said, being that if these kids have to go overseas and die for their country, they should at least be allowed to consume alcohol.
This period of allowing legal adults to drink was short-lived—in the 1980s, the U.S. government established the National Minimum Drinking Age Act. This law helped coax individual states into raising their state-wide drinking ages to 21; otherwise, they would experience a reduction in highway funds from the government.
So that’s why only the older half of college students can legally buy and consume alcohol. Would it be more practical and fair if no college students could drink? We found a group that
Hat How Toptal Google Credit A white to Guide Hack Card would argue “yes,” and in fact, wants to ban alcohol in America for good. The Prohibition Party, the oldest third party in the country, believes that Prohibition was America’s “golden age,” and aims to reestablish the laws of the era.
In a recent interview with Modern Drunkard magazine, Gene Amondson, one of the Prohibition Party’s top players, spoke out against drinking alcohol for any reason. “Trying to drink responsibly is like trying to teach a pig to eat with a spoon. The idea just doesn’t work . . . it’s just too addictive. It’s too risky,” he said. Amondson also believes that drinking alcohol makes a person “temporarily retarded” since oxygen cannot reach the brain.
While this group is an extreme example, there are many other groups that exist to push for responsible drinking laws. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is strongly in support of keeping the drinking age at 21, and declares, “The 21 minimum drinking age law has been heralded as one of the most effective public safety laws ever passed.” MADD believes that “We . . . have to send a strong and consistent message that underage alcohol use is illegal and will not be tolerated. We also have to hold youth and adults accountable when they break the law.”
There are many other similar organizations, such as the Connecticut Coalition to Stop Underage Drinking and the Georgia Alcohol Policy Partnership, which run campaigns involving education for prevention or underage drinking and maintaining the current drinking age.
However, not everyone feels this way. Choose Responsibility is an organization that wants to encourage people to “consider policies that will effectively empower young adults age 18 to 20 to make mature decisions about the place of alcohol in their own lives.” The organization’s website gives a wealth of information about the history of drinking and drinking laws, arguments for and against lowering the drinking age, and the drinking age in other countries.
Choose Responsibility sums up how many college-aged students feel about drinking: “On your 18th birthday, you became an adult. You are mature enough to vote, serve on a jury, sign a contract, and even to place your life on the line in combat. But despite being entrusted with these highest responsibilities of citizenship, you may not purchase, possess, or consume alcohol until you turn 21. Given this alarming contradiction, it is not surprising that the vast majority of young people in America began drinking before they were legally allowed.”
Public statistics support this notion that many young Americans drink. According to the website of Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), in 2005 about 30 percent of persons aged 12 to 20 said they had consumed alcohol in the last month, and about 60 percent of these drinkers were classified as “binge” drinkers. Binge drinking is another issue when it comes to college and alcohol, and Choose Responsibility points out that those under 21 who choose to drink “are drinking more,” which contributes to negative views of underage drinking.
Let’s bring this a little closer to home—what does Campus Safety have to say about underage drinking, fake IDs and college drinking in general? “Alcohol plays into a good portion of our calls,” Director of Campus Safety Hollis Nieto said. “[But] we don’t keep statistics that distinguish between underage and of-age drinking.” Nieto also said that Occidental’s alcohol policy is reviewed every two years, although there have not been any recent changes to the College’s policies.
As to where Occidental stood in comparison to other colleges’ drinking policies, Nieto said, “We’re pretty moderate, about in the middle.” She mentioned more religious institutions that prohibit alcohol altogether.
However, Nieto does not advocate a dry campus. “I don’t care if [students] drink or not, as long as they do it responsibly,” she said.
She did recount many instances of irresponsible alcohol consumption. “Nearly every week” is how often Campus Safety gets calls related to alcohol poisoning. “Stupid behavior,” such as doing damage to residence halls, is often alcohol-induced and alcohol is a “contributing factor” to sexual assault, Nieto said.
“We’ve never had a tragedy on our campus that is related to alcohol or alcohol policy,” Nieto said. “But I’m not saying that we haven’t had issues.”
How does Nieto view the issue of having underage and of-age drinkers living in such close proximity to each other? It seems unrealistic to expect that the 18- to 20-year-olds on a college campus won’t socialize with their older peers. “If you’re 19, 20 years old we’re not going to barge into your room,” Nieto said. “We’ve never been the police.” She did point out that Campus Safety has to uphold California state laws, and that Campus Safety is trying “to be as sensible as possible in enforcing them.”
Does Campus Safety ever have to deal with fake IDs? “We do keep up on what the newest trends in fake IDs are,” she said. Campus Safety has a scanning device for IDs when alcohol is being served at school functions. “We can pretty much tell,” Nieto said. “We look at IDs a lot.”
She said that if Campus Safety encounters a fake ID, it is taken and destroyed. When school events offer alcohol it is always in a secure area, and Campus Safety checks for an Oxy ID card and a government-issued ID. Nieto said that Campus Safety has a book that describes IDs from all states and a list of students’ birthdays against which they can check IDs.
“There are some good fake IDs out there,” Nieto said. She told us that recently, card stock was stolen from a DMV, so there was a huge demand in the underground fake ID market for these practically foolproof scannable IDs. Nieto even mentioned a popular “hook-up spot” for the illegal commodity.
She was, however, most concerned about students knowing the laws regarding alcohol and being safe when using it. If you’re underage, “you can’t even carry it out of the store and carry it in the trunk of your car.” Nieto then stressed that Campus Safety is there to help rather than punish when an intoxicated student is in trouble. “Don’t worry about if anyone’s going to get in trouble. Call Campus Safety.”
Google Credit How A Hat Hack to white Guide Card Toptal She hopes that no matter what the situation is, students will act responsibly and help each other. “Take care of each other,” she said.
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