University fights fake ID use, underage drinking

With an escalating number of students found with fake IDs, the University is launching a campaign to warn them of the legal consequences.

The University Police Department has seen an increase in alcohol-related reports tied back to the use of fake IDs, UPD Chief Kevin Hay said, along with finding more fake IDs in wallets at the lost and found.

That spike prompted a joint effort by UPD and the Center for Alcohol and other Drug Education this fall to remind students that they could face disciplinary violations, police citations, fines or even arrest if caught with false identification.

“If your friends talk you into getting a fake ID, it could be more than just a college lark,” Hay said. “You could end up with something on your record that you don’t want to be there three years later.”

Sixteen students have been reported to GW’s disciplinary office so far this year for using false identification to buy alcohol or gain access into bars. Last academic year, a total of 84 students were referred to the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities for the use or possession of false IDs – down from 109 students during the 2010-2011 year, Gabriel Slifka, the office’s director, said.

“Many incidents” of fake ID use by students are handled by the Metropolitan Police Department, potentially skewing the University’s statistics, because the department is not obligated to notify UPD, Hay said. Scenarios where UPD finds fake IDs in wallets at the lost and found are also not logged.

The campaign this fall will include information cards outlining University and city penalties of possessing fake IDs, as well as the potential health and legal risks of consuming alcohol, Hay said. Police will begin handing the cards out Sunday at the annual block party at the Eye Street Mall.

Students who are caught with fake IDs for the first time typically face disciplinary probation, Slifka said. But they could also be arrested or receive citations if MPD officers catch them.

D.C. law imposes a $300 fine and driving probation for fake IDs used for underage drinking.

The University is taking an “active role” in fighting fake ID use with D.C.’s Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration, Hay said. UPD routinely shares information on which bars, clubs and liquor stores are known for dodging underage drinking laws with MPD and ABRA, sometimes leading to sting operations.

In September, three students were arrested in Columbia Plaza after purchasing alcohol with fake IDs, according to MPD reports. Hay said UPD was not involved.

The fake ID education effort will target the entire student body, Hay said.

“Students should be educated on the potential outcomes of using a fake ID, so that they understand the consequences they may face should they be caught,” Alexis Janda, CADE’s associate director, said.

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