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In an effort to curtail underage drinking, CU and the city of Boulder are stepping up measures to penalize students who use false identification to purchase alcohol at liquor stores or gain entrance into bars.
“We’re in college, it’s simply unrealistic to expect that students won’t drink until their junior or senior year which is usually when we turn twenty-one,” said Lindsey Kilmurray, 20-year-old fine arts major.
Any bar or liquor store that sells alcohol to a minor can have its liquor license revoked for up to fifteen days.
Multiple offenses can result in permanent suspension, creating strong incentive for establishments to crack down on underage customers.
In addition to strict policies penalizing establishments, Colorado is one of 40 states that participates in a program called Cops in Shops, in which undercover officers are placed in bars and liquor stores to issue tickets or arrests to underage students attempting to use fake identification.
Cops in Shops program director, officer Heather Frey, 36, feels strongly about the seriousness of these offenses and the repercussions for underage users of fake identification.
“On average we see about fifty IDs turned into us a week,” Frey said.
“Using a fake ID to attempt to gain entrance into a bar or purchase alcohol at a liquor store is an offense we take seriously, punishable by administering a ticket for fraudulent identification or an automatic arrest if police are present.”
In addition to being arrested, all criminal cases involving students are handed over to the Office of Judicial Affairs at CU.
Jamal Ward, director of the Office of Judicial Affairs, described the possible sanctions for students with tickets and arrests for use of fake identification.
“Dependent upon the severity of the offense, the sanction can be as little as probation to as much as suspension for the university,” Ward said. “No matter what, students are required to write a written reflection, complete community service and are put on probation for as little as one semester to as much as two years.”
Some students are frustrated by the strict policies, but accept that there isn’t much they can do about the restrictions.
“It’s just impossible to get into bars – I tried once or twice but the bouncers take away your ID so it’s really not worth it,” film studies major Kendall Anderson, 20, said. “I didn’t even know they had cops inside some bars that definitely doesn’t make me even want to try.”
Officer Frey described two types of false identification that are used most often.
“In Boulder the most prevalent IDs are what we call ‘in possession of another,’ meaning that they are real IDs but are not the legal possession of the person using it,” Frey said. “We also see a decent amount of fake drivers licenses usually produced by other students.”
Students interviewed by the Campus Press generally said that it is fairly easy to find fake IDs, but often receive hand-me-downs from older friends.
“My fake ID was passed down to me, now that I’m twenty-one it’s mostly just a relief,” environmental design major Ben Salance, 21, said. “Getting caught with a fake isn’t something anyone wants to deal with.”
Other students said that despite the availability of fake IDs, it is in their best interest to be cautious and avoid fakes altogether.
“Students best bet is just not to use them, period,” pre-journalism major Caitlin McLaughlin, 19, said. “It’s not worth legal trouble and possibly being kicked out of school.”