21 overnight

For many students, going to school in Miami offers a number of benefits: warm weather, proximity to the beach and access to great nightlife. However, all of Miami’s bars and most of its clubs are off-limits to people under 21 years of age. Fake ID’s are widely used among socially active UM students as a means to enjoy the perks of being 21 without the hassle of actually aging.

Manufacturing, selling and using a fake ID is illegal in the U.S., so those who may be in the market to sell a fake ID are not exactly advertising their services for all to see. Students who want to buy a fake ID usually have to resort to good old-fashioned sleuthing in the hopes of finding someone who “knows a guy.”

“[Buying an ID is] kind of shady,” Carlos Condarco, freshman, said. “It’s illegal, so you usually have to just ask around and hope you’ll get lucky.”

How much are students willing to shell out to a guy who knows a guy? Prices are based on the quality of the ID and can range from around $50 to about $150 per card. Some manufacturers even offer group discounts if the IDs are purchased in a group of 10 or more.

“There’s websites you can mail money to [to get a fake ID], but you never really know if you’re going to get anything back,” Lisa Cromwell, sophomore, said.

Websites like FakeIDGuru.com claim that they can supply an ID from any state in the country for a fee. All a student needs to do is wire $99 to the company, which, in turn, will make an ID based on the information provided by the student. FakeIDGuru.com is able to stay in business because it is not situated in the U.S. and because it sells its products as novelty ID cards, which, the company stresses in its website, are not in any way intended for illegal use.

While many UM students use fake IDs on their social outings, not all of them are aware of the consequences that may befall them if they are caught.

“Using a fake ID is a felony in the state of Florida, which can be punishable by a year or more in jail, depending on the judge,” William F. Gerlach, administrative lieutenant at the Department of Public Safety, said.

Legal consequences do not only apply to the person using the fake ID, but also to the server who accepts the ID.

At the Rat, companies such as Responsible Vendors, which specializes in training bartenders and servers to spot fake IDs, teach employees the laws and liabilities surrounding underage drinking.

“The first time a server is caught serving alcohol to a minor it is considered a second degree misdemeanor, which is punishable by 60 days in jail and a $500 fine,” Raul Hernandez, a training manager for Responsible Vendors, said. “If a second incident occurs, it is considered a felony, and then the consequences are far more severe.”

While some students may feel that using a fake ID is a risk worth taking, there are those who don’t mind the wait to turn 21.

“I’m waiting,” Ann-Marie Mahon, junior, said. “I turn 21 in five months and every party I’ve been interested in going to is 18 and over anyways.”

Marina Nazir can be contacted at m.nazir@umiami.edu.