Youth is often coveted. To some Paly teens, however, age can be a burden. Some students take issue with the restrictions that come with being a minor, such as not being able to purchase liquor and nicotine products. Rather than sit and wait for the day where they are legally allowed to buy alcohol and Juul pods, some students have acquired fake identifications (IDs) to circumvent the requirement.
The most common way to procure a fake ID is through online ordering. Sites, normally based in other countries, allow minors to submit their picture, signature and a false date of birth. Most IDs manufactured now can be scanned at any establishment and appear as authentic IDs. Out of state IDs are most common, as they are usually cheaper and harder to recognize than ones from California.
With many teens finding roundabout ways to cheat the system, it calls into question the necessity of having to be 21 to purchase alcohol.
Eric, whose name has been changed to protect his identity, bought a fake ID at the start of his senior year, but not many new doors were opened to him once he had it.
“My life isn’t much different with a fake ID because I’ve always had friends my age or older with fakes,” Eric said. “So I guess the only difference would be the convenience to go out and buy illegal contraband on my own.”
Eric questions the necessity of such a high drinking age requirement, since teenagers are able to do arguably more dangerous activities.
“The drinking age should be lowered,” Eric said. “If you can be 18 and blown up by an (Improvised Explosive Device) in the Middle East, you should be able to drink a beer.”
Since her sophomore year, senior Sophia, whose name has also been changed to protect her identity, has used a fake ID. According to Sophia, her first fake ID, ordered from a website, was poor quality.
“My old fake was bad and got taken away, but my new one has never been questioned,” Sophia said. “I got (the fake ID I have now) junior year from a friend in San Francisco, and it’s a really good California ID. I use it for everything (minors are unable to do) and it has never not worked when trying to get into a bar or a club.”
Sophia has always been successful in her illegal endeavours and does not see the drinking age law as something that prevents her from doing so.
But according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, alcohol is the most commonly abused substance among minors in America. This is most often in the form of binge drinking, which entails consuming excessive amounts of alcohol in one sitting. Binge drinking is responsible for over 4,300 deaths of minors each year.
Rosa, a Paly student from the class of 2013, took to Reddit, an online forum for posting and discussion, to look for reputable fake ID websites.
“I ordered my first batch with two other people and from there other people started asking me to place orders,” Rosa said. “I used the ID mostly just for buying alcohol from Safeway and liquor stores around town. Later on, I used it in bars and to order alcohol at restaurants. I would sometimes buy alcohol for people’s parties.”
Rosa estimates she provided fake IDs to at least 20 people over several years, but does not see anything wrong with supplying this service.
“America has such a toxic culture around drinking,” Rosa said. “Kids either ignore the law and drink anyways or wait until they’re 21 and don’t know their limits, which usually leads to a trip to the hospital.”
Rosa said this is an issue unique to America, since most other countries only require being 18 to purchase alcohol. Since all activity is done under the radar to avoid consequences, no adult guidance or supervision is offered to minors trying alcohol for the first time.