at Fake I.D. Forum
By Mike Lauterborn
(for Fairfield Citizen News)
Fairfield, CT – For the dozen or more representatives from local bars and restaurants, it was a helpful crash course in knowing how to spot fake I.D.’s but also a refresher on liquor sale and distribution guidelines.
Held Tuesday April 12 at Fairfield University’s Alumni House facility on 1073 North Benson Road, the Fake I.D. Forum was an initiative aimed at curbing drinking by individuals under the age of 21 by educating local providers of alcohol. The morning session was hosted by Pam Paulmann, the Program Coordinator of Fairfield Corps, a coalition on campus funded through a grant by the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. The session featured Fairfield Police Dept. Lt. Tom Mrozek, a fake I.D. expert, and Stanley Buck, Jr., Supervising Agent with the State of CT Dept. of Consumer Protection Liquor Control Division, who spoke about state laws governing the sale of alcohol.
“This event is a follow-up to an April 2 Training Intervention Procedures program,” said Paulmann, “which guided servers on the sale and distribution of alcohol. We’re trying to engage the entire community and have everyone do their part in allaying issues.”
Sitting in, Todd Pelazza, Director of Public Safety at the university, said he just wants to keep students safe. “We find that most underage students that have alcohol on campus purchase it off campus,” he said. “Our goal is to increase awareness in the community on how to spot fake I.D.’s. With the enhanced ability of computers and graphics, people find it easier to produce fakes. We do find on occasion an incident of a student on campus with a fake I.D.”
Presenter Mrozek said the university, in fact, had a particularly troublesome occurrence about five years ago. “There was a kid with a big picture of a Connecticut driver’s license on his wall,” he said. “He’d have kids come in, take their photograph against it and print out a license from his computer. He kept everything on there, so we were able to round everyone up.”
Mrozek said there are many different approaches underage students use to try and get liquor illegally. “Students that are of age love to lend out their I.D.’s,” he said. “Others get I.D.’s from the Internet. When you do a search for ‘Fake I.D.’, about 6,000 companies come up. Some kids use a brother or sister’s license, and those are the toughest to catch.”
The officer said fake Connecticut licenses are rare as the state is a good watchdog. On the other hand, fake New York licenses are common, but also easy to spot. “They are indestructible,” he said, “so if you can peel up a corner or it de-laminates, it’s a fake.”
Other states use certain printing processes or imagery to deter license forgers. “Massachusetts loves microprinting,” Mrozek said. “They feature a little black line across the face that reads ‘Dept. of Motor Vehicles State of Massachusetts’. Maine has a certain brightness and clarity to the top portion of its license.”
With Internet-oriented I.D.’s, there are certain graphics that make them easy to spot as fakes. “Many use symbols like padlocks, keys and eagles, or words like authentic and genuine,” said Mrozek. “If you see these on licenses, it’s a quick tip-off.”
Server compliance statistics that co-presenter Buck shared certainly stressed the importance of verifying I.D.’s. Of 492 establishments that were checked in 2010, 124 failed for selling alcohol to minors. This led to 11 permit revocations, 196 suspensions and over $313,000 in civil penalties.
Buck said there are I.D. checking guides that servers can buy which provide examples of various I.D.’s and false elements. He said servers can seek to obtain an Age Statement from someone they suspect is using a fake I.D., too, which can offer legal protection.
Buck also emphasized to servers that they should know their permits inside and out, so they are not risking other penalties. Citing a few examples, Buck said, “Restaurant permits apply to what happens within the four walls of the facility, but don’t apply to a patio. A separate patio permit must be obtained to allow people to take drinks outside the four walls. In café situations, a facility must close after legal drinking hours and employees are prohibited from having an after-work drink if it’s after legal hours.”
Jim O’Neil, a bartender at Archie Moore’s, said, “It’s good to know what the police want us to look for. We never really have a problem, but part of that is keeping up to date through programs like this.”