As students have returned to college campuses for a new school year, I want to take this opportunity to remind them of the detrimental ramifications that may result from using or possessing a fake driver’s license or identification card. Possessing or using a fake ID is a serious offense and with it comes dire consequences.
Many college students who obtain fake IDs do not think of the serious consequences. Their goal may be as simple as getting into bars or purchasing alcohol. Anyone convicted of possessing or using a fraudulent driver’s license or ID card will receive a one-year suspension of his or her driving privileges. In addition, they face up to one to three years in prison, a mandatory minimum fine of $500 or 50 hours of community service.
The Internet has made obtaining fake IDs easier. Overseas companies boast of offering fake IDs for a fee. Unfortunately, some students eager to get fraudulent IDs are falling for this illegal practice and, in so doing, are providing personal information to these disreputable companies. In addition to breaking Illinois law and risking their driving privileges, these students are putting themselves at risk for identity theft.
My office is committed to combating the use and manufacture of fake IDs. In 2009, I established the state’s Safe ID Task Force, which is chaired by my office’s Inspector General Jim Burns, former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. The task force works with local, state and federal agencies to combat fake ID use. Some of these agencies include police, the FBI, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Illinois driver’s licenses and ID cards contain more than a dozen enhanced security features designed to make them secure and difficult to reproduce. Secretary of State Police experts travel the state training liquor establishments, law enforcement, banks and other commercial entities on how to spot a fake ID. The fact of the matter is, while the fake may look good, those with a trained eye and inexpensive equipment such as a black light or a laser pen can quickly tell the difference.
I urge college students and others who are underage to refrain from obtaining fake IDs. The penalties are too severe and will impact their future in a negative way.
Jesse White is Illinois secretary of state.