Senior Katie Knight is Co-Editor for print. This is her fourth year on staff. She enjoys bossing people around--particularly Co-Editor Andrew McKittrick. She is also a member of the Broadcasting Dream Team. Read Full »
*Names changed to protect identities
Senior Hallie Frances* heads toward CVS, not hearing the doors ding as they part for her entrance. Her head is in another place.
Act normal. Make them think you know what you’re doing, she tells herself.
She turns the corner and heads straight for the fridges stocked with alcohol. She can see her friends waiting for her in their car, almost as nervous as she is. Her hands are quivering at her side.
What was I supposed to get again? Crap. Here comes a worker.
Once the cheery worker asks to help her, she replies “What do you like?” and throws him a friendly smile, trying to look older. After a few minutes of discussion, she heads to the cash register with a case of Coors.
As she reaches for the cash in her wallet and takes out her fake Missouri driver’s license with her fake address, she shoves her now-exposed East student ID deeper into its pocket. The cashier didn’t see. This time, she’s safe.
According to Frances, nearly 30 of her friends have fake IDs that were purchased in the past year. The ones who don’t, she says, feel that they don’t need them because they can get the alcohol through all of their friends who do have IDs. Frances feels that at this point in time, it’s almost expected for teens to have fake IDs.
For senior Lindsey Travis*, the biggest appeal for having a fake ID was the independence that came with it. With a fake, she had the ability to use it on her own time frame and not ask older friends to do her any favors involving purchasing alcohol.
“Personally, I felt bad asking other people [to buy alcohol] because if they got in trouble, it’d be my fault,” Travis said. “That’s the reason I wanted my own, so that I could rely on myself. Also it’s really inconvenient and you feel like a hassle.”
After hearing stories from her parents, Travis realizes that fake IDs have been around for decades. She believes that what really makes the difference now is the easy accessibility. She believes that one of the reasons so many seniors have gotten caught is because the majority of the IDs have been bought in bulk from the same supplier, and therefore all look exactly the same.
That easy accessibility has its consequences, especially for Travis. In early January, East parent and Nall Hills Liquor owner Doug Seiden took Travis’ ID after seeing the too-thick plastic that the fake IDs are often made of. Whenever Seiden takes an ID, he tapes it up on the wall behind his cash register for all of his customers to see, in hopes of deterring any other underage customers. At one point in time, Seiden had 10 or 12 IDs hanging. But it wasn’t until Travis’ mom ventured into the store and saw her daughter’s ID on the wall with “SME senior” written on the card in thick black marker that she got in trouble. After a long, hand-written apology letter and a month’s grounding, the ID was finally retired from the wall.
But Travis considers herself lucky to only get off with her ID taped to a wall and no legal consequences. According to Kansas Statutes chapter 8, the first time being caught using a fake ID to purchase alcohol will result in at least 100 hours of public service and anywhere from a $200-$500 fine.
After Seiden read the apology letter, Travis received a Facebook message from Seiden’s daughter, senior Julia Seiden. Once Julia’s dad started seeing her peers come into the store, she took on the responsibility of asking those people to stay away. When Julia messaged Travis thanking her for the apology letter, she also asked that if she continue to buy alcohol, she do it in places other than her dad’s store.
“[Julia] was like ‘My dad says thank you for the letter…but he doesn’t appreciate you and your friends coming to his store because that hurts him. If he gets caught, that’s so bad and it hurts his store.’” Travis said. “When she put it in that perspective, I was like ‘that is so true.’ I was like ‘Oh my god I could have hurt her family. He could have lost his store because of me.’”
Frances had her ID taken away twice, resulting in a fine and 20 hours of public service. Although her parents reacted strongly against her ID, Frances does believe that in this time period, fake IDs are more widely accepted as a rite of passage by parents.
“I feel like parents are a lot more accepting,” Frances said. “But more in college though, I think in high school it’s kind of a taboo, and their parents don’t want to know, but I think they know it’s there.”
Seiden is one parent at East who is far from accepting. From being on the other side of the fake ID craze and having a high school age daughter, he makes sure that his business does everything they can to prevent selling to minors.
After receiving an anonymous letter in the mail from a concerned East parent telling Seiden to keep an eye out for minors in his store, he and his workers are on high alert for fake IDs. He sees purposely selling alcohol to underage students as completely unacceptable.
“I think [selling alcohol to minors] is insane,” Seiden said. “First of all it’s immoral, second of all it’s not worth the risk of your business…I don’t want [other stores] selling to them, but I don’t control other people’s liquor stores and they can do what they want. If they’re willing to take the risk, they can have that business. I don’t want it.”