Presenting fake identification can result in misdemeanor, increased charges

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UT Police Department officers have responded to four calls involving students using fake IDs within the last 60 days, according to the UTPD crime log. 

Three of the four calls involving the use of a fake ID had additional charges related to alcohol consumption, including consumption of alcohol by a minor and public intoxication.

“The police aren’t bouncers at the bar,” said Michael Murphy, district officer coordinator for UTPD. “When you hand a police officer a fake ID, we know it’s fake, and it’s a crime to present yourself as somebody else.”

Murphy said the charges for having a fake ID range from low-level misdemeanors up to felonies, depending on the purpose of the ID.

UTPD can tell if an ID is fake based on the holograms and fine print on many licenses. Officers also run the IDs through their dispatch system, Murphy said.

“An officer knows an ID is fake almost from the second you hand it to them,” Murphy said. “The second an officer tries to run a fake ID through our dispatch system, they’ll discover that it’s fake almost instantly, because the number is either not going to come back at all or it’ll come back as somebody else.”

Presenting an officer with a fake ID generally increases charges from a Class C misdemeanor to a Class B misdemeanor. Murphy said when students show officers a fake ID, they have then lied to them while under detention, which results in a failure to identify.

Murphy said fake IDs are often involved in underage drinking.

“My experience has been that (drinking charges and fake licenses) often go hand in hand, but not universally,” Murphy said. “A lot of times, when you’re investigating a public intoxication or consumption by a minor, the fake ID is going to come up, either directly handed to us or after arrest.”

Most alcohol offenses are misdemeanors. Consumption of alcohol by a minor and possession of alcohol by a minor are both Class C misdemeanors that result in a ticket and a trip to court, while public intoxication usually leads to an arrest, Murphy said.

The consumption of alcohol while underage leads to a greater risk for forming an addiction, said pharmacy professor Rueben Gonzales.

“Even for college students between 18 and 22, they’re at risk (for addiction),” Gonzales said. “The best thing to do is not drink, but we know that most students drink. If you’re going to drink, just drink moderately.”

The college environment can present social pressures to drink and college drinking carries a risk of negative academic performance, William Mupo, health promotions coordinator for University Health Services, said in an email.

Mupo said it is important for students to understand the risks associated with alcohol consumption and how to prevent those risks.

“For example, motor-vehicle crashes (are) a significant alcohol-related health risk,” Mupo said in an email. “Understanding how alcohol negatively effects reaction time and visual fields and the importance of having a sober ride addresses this concern. Another example is alcohol poisoning. By understanding the signs of alcohol poisoning and that it can carry a fatal risk, students are better equipped to take life saving measures.”