Hullabaloo investigates fake ID use in Louisiana, strict state statutes


Amanda Verdi and Danny Fitzpatrick, Associate News Editors

In a city where there is no shortage of alcohol, a quick fix for people younger than 21 looking to drink has historically been purchasing a fake ID.

Many students own fake IDs at Tulane, even though the state of Louisiana has among the strictest laws for fraudulent identification usage in the country. 

“Whoever violates the provisions of this Section by possessing a fraudulent document for identification purposes shall be fined not more than five hundred dollars or imprisoned for not more than six months, or both,” Louisiana law states. The state can fine people who distribute or manufacture fake IDs up to $5,000 or imprison violators for up to 3 years.

For comparison, Massachusetts, a state considered by Time Magazine as “the second worst state in America for drinking” because of its stringent laws for alcohol sales, has less extreme laws than Louisiana regarding fake IDs.

Massachusetts state law states that using an ID that is not your own is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $200 or three months prison. 

The Louisiana Alcohol and Tobacco Control is the primary regulatory agency of underage drinking in the state. 

“[Alcohol and Tobacco Control] takes selling alcohol beverages to persons under the age of 21 years extremely seriously, and maximum penalties may be assessed in addition to criminal charges,” the group’s website stated.  

Jon Barnwell, Tulane University Police Department superintendent, said that TUPD usually does not have much interaction with those caught using fake IDs.

“Typically what happens is establishments hire security that work the door, and they look at ID for entry,” Barnwell said. “If they come across a fake ID the typical process is for them to keep it. Sometimes they call us, sometimes they don’t.”

Freshman Alexa Price said she has seen bouncers handle fake IDs in different ways. 

“They cut it up in front of you, or they take it and don’t give it back,” Price said.

Freshman Catherine Grimm said that, in her experience, bouncers in New Orleans are generally lenient on fake IDs.

“Once you get one you can pretty much use it anywhere,” Grimm said.

Barnwell said New Orleans has a relaxed attitude toward drinking, leading to lower usage of fake IDs. 

“I think there’s less pressure to have a fake ID in this area than there is somewhere else that has more of a zero tolerance policy,” Barnwell said. “The establishments serving alcohol around Tulane’s campus are not oblivious to the fact that a multitude of patrons will attempt to use fake IDs.”

Barnwell said that in a university setting there is typically an opportunity to use underage drinking as a learning experience.

“Students are still held accountable for their actions, but it’s more from an educational component than it is from the court system,” Barnwell said.

TUPD typically refers students to the Office of Student Conduct, where the first offense is typically an admonition. This means that no formal violation of conduct will be put on the student’s record as long as no future incidents occur.

The next sanction would typically be something the Office of Student Conduct calls a warning period. At this stage the student will be formally notified that future incidents will result in escalated consequences.

“The student would also likely be required to engage in some type of educational action such as writing an essay reflecting on the incident or doing a research paper on state and federal laws relating to false identifications or engage in community service,” Director of Student Conduct Abigail Gaunt said. “There can be more serious sanctions if the student has a conduct record already or if the fake ID was part of more serious conduct.”

The Office of Student Conduct charges students using fake IDs with fraud using the Code of Student Conduct.

Different police departments reporting the fake ID will inform the Office of Student Conduct differently.

“If NOPD issues charges, we don’t automatically find out about that if it’s for a fake ID,” Gaunt said. “If TUPD does, then we’ll get those.”

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