Home Life & Culture Fake IDs flood downtown SLO: Up to $1,000 fine, jail

Fake IDs flood downtown SLO: Up to $1,000 fine, jail

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SLOPD records indicated that there were 20 arrests in 2016, and 28 arrests in 2017 for minors in possession of fake identification.
Public Domain / Courtesy of the U.S. Southern District Court of New York


By Clara Applegarth
Features Editor

Happy hour ends early when underage students get caught with fake IDs, an increasing problem local bars are facing in San Luis Obispo.

Getting caught red-handed with a fake ID has become a pricey affair in California: The minimum fine is $250, but it can go as high as $1000, according to the California Department of Motor Vehicles. In some cases, it can even result in jail time.

“About the last four to five years we have seen a huge increase,” said Marco Aburassed, night manager of Mother’s Tavern in downtown SLO. “It’s definitely on the rise this year.”

Despite Aburassed’s claim of the problem rising, data collected from the SLOPD records doesn’t necessarily show that there is a drastic increase. This may be the result of the way doormen have to handle the problem, according to Aburassed.

SLOPD records indicated that there were 20 arrests in 2016, and 28 arrests in 2017 for minors in possession of fake identification.

In a recent extreme example, police found fake IDs in the vehicle of former Cuesta student Gianna Brencola after, while drunk, she struck and killed a Cal Poly student riding his bicycle August 2017.

While this remains an isolated incident, it illustrates the severe potential consequences of having and using a fake ID.

SLO police are concerned about the increased quality of fake identification made available these days, but say that downtown bar staff are adequately trained in spotting them.

“[It’s] virtually a nightly occurrence,” said Sgt. Trevor Shalhoob, of the SLOPD. “To be honest, the door-men and women know how to find them.”

Aburassed said once they declare they have come across a fake ID, they give the person in possession two options: They will call SLOPD to come look at the ID for further investigation, or they can walk, while the bar keeps and disposes the fake ID properly.

“You probably have a lot more [fake IDs],” said Lt. Fred Michael, of SLOPD. “The quality of them have become extremely good year after year.”

Websites that provide fake IDs follow up-to-date IDs from states that issue new versions of identification. Some can even pass blacklight tests which is one of the major things doormen and women look for when checking identification, according to Aburassed.

Cuesta students, like Claire Hopper a second year business major, have experienced the results of getting caught with a fake ID. Luckily for her, she got off easy.

“I gave the bouncer my ID to get into the bar,” Hopper said. “He looked at it closely and then called another guy over to look at it too who said it was fake. I told him it wasn’t fake so he gave me the option to leave it with him and walk away or talk to the police about it so I just walked away.”

The websites that under 21 young adults purchase IDs can even buy them in bulk with a group of friends to discount their order. Fake IDs can cost anywhere from $60 to $200, depending on the state under which they are applying for.

“[We get] a lot of Arizona, Washington and Florida IDs.” Aburassed said. “Ninety percent of the time, the person with the ID will decide to have a cop come and look at the ID, and then they end up running away before the cop arrives.”

But the more door-men and women see these IDs, the more awareness it will bring to underage drinking and bar-hopping.

According to information given by Aburassed, SLOPD staff, and Hopper, it’s clear that there is a disconnect under which all parties deal with false identification. There has yet to be a consistent protocol to alleviate the issue of underage drinking at bars.

“Most of these kids will be turning 21 in a few months,” Aburassed said. “I tell them, come back when you turn 21, and I will get you a free drink.”