The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

Bouncers, students and police talk Fake IDs


“One time, the bouncer at Tin just takes my friend’s ID and bends and snaps it and is just like, ‘leave,’” an anonymous student said.

That’s the moment when one Vanderbilt student said she realized the bars around campus were becoming more strict.

Many underage Vanderbilt students use fake IDs to gain entrance to 21+ bars on Demonbreun, a street with a reputation as a hot-spot for underage college students, and lately students say they’ve faced the dreaded “I can’t accept this ID” from bouncers more often than they have in years past.

“Now everywhere is super hard,” one student said. “In my opinion, I’ve never really had a problem with Dan’s, but there have been issues, so I’m very hesitant to use it.”

Fake IDs are somewhat common among college students, and the risk of being caught is usually ignored by students when taking up an opportunity for a night at a bar or restaurant.

Why do students get fake IDs?

“Well, I wanted alcohol. Simple as that,” a male student stated. “There’s definitely risks, but I use it because I enjoy drinking and I’m willing to overlook the risks.”

Of 10 sophomores approached in Branscomb, 7 students possessed a form of fake identification and had close friends who did as well. A few recalled having trouble getting into a bar, but none of them had ever had their IDs confiscated.

“Even if you get caught, you usually just get it back,” one student said.

Students usually turn to the Internet when searching for fake IDs.

“You know — it’s weird. You hear from a friend of a friend. Some people go online. There’s tons of websites. I got mine from a friend who knew a guy, and word just got around,” one student explained.

Students claimed that people get fakes from all over, but that certain states are more commonly used than others.

“I’ve heard Ohio, Pennsylvania and I think Rhode Island are good ones,” one student said.

“I know South Carolina and Illinois for some reason are really popular. As long as you get a major state, it’s easier to get away with it,” another added.

A major issue that both Metro Nashville Police Department and Vanderbilt University Police Department (VUPD) officers stressed, however, is that people either are unaware of or simply ignore the serious consequences that could result from the use of fake IDs. All of the sophomores approached stated that they were aware of the consequences of possession and usage of false identification.

“You just have to pick and choose when you want to go,” one student said.

“Yeah, there’s risks,” another student added. “But no one’s really gotten arrested for them. As long as you use it safely, like just for bars.”

Other students choose not to get fake IDs for various reasons. A junior male cited the cost of the ID, the effort of ordering one and the risk of getting caught as reasons he has not gotten a fake ID.

“I’ve thought about getting one and I’m not passionately against it,” the junior male said. “It was just never really worth it to me.”

In terms of getting caught, the student said that there are risks for the person who orders the IDs as well as the person whose address the IDs are sent to.

“I’m also very not big; when I first came here freshman year, I kind of figured I had no business being 21 years old,” the student joked.

The junior male also said that he has been able to have fun with his friends without a fake ID, so he doesn’t feel much pressure to get one.

A “crackdown”?

“Even the easiest places are being really strict now,” one student complained.

Another student echoed this sentiment: “People have gotten denied more and more, so a lot of my friends and I haven’t been going to bars anymore.”

Another sophomore disagreed.

“It seems like it was more of a word of mouth thing than an actual threat,” she said.

The bouncers on Demonbreun said that students with fake IDs aren’t allowed into their establishments.

“They don’t get in,” said multiple bouncers on Demonbreun. “I can just look at someone and tell,” one said.

Students, however, tell a different story, with multiple students admitting to successfully using fakes at these same bars.

“All the time,” a male student stated.

“Everyone’s doing it,” said another. “Which I get is bad, but you can’t arrest the whole college campus.”

Bouncers on Demonbreun denied that there has been any sort of crackdown on fake IDs this semester.

“There’s no sting,” a bouncer on Demonbreun said.

Despite denial by bouncers at bars on Demonbreun, a warning was sent from VUPD to Mary Helen Solomon, the interim director of the Office of Student Accountability, earlier this school year.

“There will be increased monitoring of midtown bars by Metro Nashville Police Department officials in order to address issues related to the use of false identification,” warned VUPD.

Solomon also explained that the number of cases regarding fake IDs has neither increased nor decreased significantly in recent years.

Although there is no statistically significant increase in students getting caught with fake IDs, there is limited information on doormen taking IDs away, so neither VUPD nor Metro PD could give insight on whether doormen were becoming stricter.

Detective Andrew Injaychock of Metro PD did say that if there is a crackdown on fake IDs, it would likely be the result of pressure being put on the bars from the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

If members of the commission become aware of bars admitting people who are underage, the bar will be warned that it could be at risk of having its liquor license revoked.

“That would result in calling the police more to enforce fake IDs,” Injaychock said.

Some bouncers from bars on Demonbreun said that they usually turn away roughly 10-15 people with fake IDs in a night.

“They’ll try and they can’t get in, so they go to where they can get in,” one bouncer explained.

One bouncer shared a story regarding a screening technique a fellow bouncer at a different bar used.

“A few weeks ago when my friend was working the door, they wouldn’t let anyone in from Connecticut because so many kids tried to get in with IDs from there,” the bouncer said.

He then recalled a time when a girl called the police in an attempt to prove that her ID was real.

“The police officer was standing right there and asked her what number she just called and she got arrested for making a false 911 call,” the bouncer said.

A bartender at Tin Roof said that on the weekends, the bar scans every ID that comes through the door. During the week, however, he said it is at the discretion of security.

“So if a person looks young we just try to scan it to make sure it’s a real ID,” he said.

The DMV scanners would give bars access to actual state records of IDs and would use those to prove the authenticity of forms of identification.

“As technology advances to get a fake ID, technology also advances to detect a fake ID,” Injaychock said, regarding DMV scanners. “They’re trying to keep up with each other.”

When asked about police officers being seen on Demonbreun, multiple bouncers said they hadn’t noticed that either.

“I’d say it’s a normal first semester,” another bouncer stated.

Consequences of using fakes

Regarding police involvement, bouncers stated that they usually don’t call the police themselves and that the worst scenario usually involves the confiscation of the fake ID. This does, however, vary by establishment and by the bouncers themselves.

“Kids only get arrested because they act really, really stupid,” one bouncer stated.

“99 percent of the time they’re just turned away,” another said.

Contact between bars and the police department depends on if the bar is more proactive in deciding whether or not to confiscate the ID and whether or not to involve the police. VUPD and Metro PD do have contact with certain establishments in case of emergency.

“It starts at the patrol officer level, and they take it from there,” Injaychock said.

Most bouncers shared the attitude that they just don’t go to the police. One stated that the police would only get involved if the person in possession of the fake calls them, which he said has happened before.

Detection itself depends on the bar staff and the training required. One bouncer said that many other bouncers he knows have not had any formal training, but stated that it was easy to spot a fake, and more importantly, someone underage.

“Obviously it’s a crime to use or possess fake ID cards, and being a proactive police department and having the best interest of our students in mind, we want to get out that it is a crime, and that there are consequences and potential criminal charges that occur when fake IDs are utilized,” stressed Rick Burr, Major of the University Campus Precinct at VUPD.

Protocol for being caught with a fake ID varies based on the situation, but could have very serious consequences. Usually these issues are dealt with by Metro PD or by the establishments themselves.

Russell Thomas, a criminal lawyer based in Nashville, said that criminal consequences of having fake IDs can vary by incident.

“It would be a class E felony for criminal simulation if they have anything that’s manufactured to look like a state-issued license,” Thomas said. “If you’ve got an older brother’s real ID, you’ll usually see somebody charged with criminal impersonation, which is a misdemeanor. You might see someone charged with identity theft, but that would require that the person has used a real person’s information without their permission.”

Regarding whether or not the provider of the authentic ID would get in trouble, Thomas said that it didn’t happen often.

“It’s uncommon. I’ve practiced criminal law for 10 years and I’ve never seen anybody charged with that,” Thomas said.

The police explained that using a real ID or a fake ID whose information can be traced back to a real person is a more serious offense than simply using a fake ID, because either of those situations could be considered identity theft.

Some think that fake IDs are only considered fraudulent if a false name is used (or if another person’s real ID is used), but Injaychock made the point that this is not the case.

“If you have a driver’s license number and it came back to an actual person, that would be considered identity theft,” Injaychock explained.

Moving forward

Burr said that VUPD is focusing heavily on educating students more than anything. VUPD is currently working on different ways to educate students about using fake IDs and about alcohol consumption.

“It would be a shame for young, promising students to jeopardize their futures and get criminal records as a result of using a false ID,” he said.

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About the Contributor
Amanda Nwaba, Former Author

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