Use of fake IDs a “serious” offense
Block Island establishments that sell alcohol are up against a challenge: making sure that they don’t sell alcohol to a person under 21. This job becomes even more difficult when underage individuals try to use fake IDs.
One experience a local bar owner had recently prompted him to relay the story to The Block Island Times.
On July 30, a man walked up to Captain Nick’s, a local bar, to retrieve a fake identification card that had been left there the night before.
The fake ID was for this man’s son. The father eventually admitted to establishment owner Marc Scortino that he had bought the ID for his son. And according to Scortino, this type of occurrence is not uncommon.
“It’s amazing how many underage kids come to the door with their parents,” Scortino said. Scortino said that on one weekend in early August, there were three parents that came to the door with underage kids.
Scortino has a stack of dozens of fake licenses that he has gathered over several summers. On weekends in the summer, Scortino said that he confiscates about three fakes a night.
Most of the time, said Scortino, when someone is caught using a fake ID, that person leaves immediately and abandons the card, which is why he is left with so many licenses.
He said he uses the leftover ones to train his staff about what to look for when checking to see if an ID is fake.
“People sometimes buy fake IDs online,” said Scortino. “They can upload their real photo and real information, like their birthdate except for their year, the correct height, weight and eye color. There are sophisticated methods.”
But even though the fakes look very similar, there are a few minor differences to look out for, such as slightly different fonts, said Scortino.
Other island establishments weighed in on the use of fake IDs to The Block Island Times.
Jeffery Foley, manager of the Red Bird Liquor store, agreed that sometimes it can be difficult to distinguish between fake ones and real ones. “I’ve caught a few fake IDs this summer,” he said. “They definitely exist. There’s some very good [well disguised] ones. Even the fake ones can have holograms.”
At Poor People’s Pub on Ocean Avenue there’s also a display of a few fakes hanging on the wall behind the bar. “I just confiscated one last night,” remarked one of the waitresses, when asked by The Block Island Times.
At Old Island Pub, owner Nat Gaffett said that “we keep people at both doors checking IDs on our busiest nights. Our bartenders are vigilant about checking.” While he said he doesn’t see a large number of fakes, he added that the police had been at Old Island Pub recently searching for an individual who was trying to use a fake ID around the island.
“Some nights I get three fake IDs, some nights I don’t get a single one,” said Karl Gann, a bouncer at McGovern’s Yellow Kittens.
Police Chief Vincent Carlone said that sometimes there are police officers in plain clothes who check IDs at local establishments. If the police do catch someone attempting to use a fake ID, that person is charged with “misrepresentation of age,” said New Shoreham Police Chief Vincent Carlone.
“People don’t realize the seriousness of it,” Carlone said. Charges could include a fine, community service, and suspension of the individual’s driver’s license, according to Carlone.
“The law is there for a reason. The law that raised the drinking age [to 21 from 18] reduced traffic fatalities and brawls,” said Carlone.
Rhode Island General Laws about alcohol sale forbid purchase of alcohol by anyone under 21. The law reads, in part:
“(d) Any person who violates this section shall be punished for the first offense by a mandatory fine of not less than one hundred dollars ($100) nor more than five hundred dollars ($500) and shall be further punished by thirty (30) hours of community service and shall be further punished by a suspension of his or her motor vehicle operator’s license or driving privileges for a period of thirty (30) days; for the second offense by a mandatory fine of not less than five hundred dollars ($500) nor more than seven hundred fifty dollars ($750) and shall be further punished by forty (40) hours of community service and will be further punished by a suspension of his or her motor vehicle operator’s license or driving privileges for a period of three (3) months; and for the third and subsequent offenses by a mandatory fine for each offense of not less than seven hundred fifty dollars ($750) nor more than one thousand dollars ($1,000) and shall be further punished by fifty (50) hours of community service and will be further punished by a suspension of his or her motor vehicle operator’s license or driving privileges for a period of one year.
(2) Any suspension of an operator’s license or driving privilege pursuant to this section shall not operate to affect the insurance rating of the offender and any operator’s license or driving privilege suspended pursuant to this section shall be reinstated without further expense upon application.”