State Senator Jeff Klein, D-Bronx and Westchester, has proposed a bill that would hold the makers and vendors of fake IDs accountable for minors’ access to alcohol and for the consequences of underage drinking.
With this bill, Klein hopes to decrease the availability and ease with which minors can access fake identification cards. Currently, said New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, a supporter of Klein’s bill, "State law holds adults and establishments accountable when someone is hurt drinking on their property, but businesses that sell fake IDs get off scott-free."
According to a study conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, underage drinking is a widespread problem among American youth. Among high school age students, "three-fourths of 12th graders, more than two-thirds of 10th graders, and about two in every five eighth-graders have consumed alcohol." The issue of underage drinking is even more pervasive in college, and studies on college campuses show that around 80 percent of underage college students have ready access to alcohol.
Klein equated these staggeringly high numbers of underage drinkers with the easy accessibility of fake IDs, an issue that Klein studied this summer with the help of interns. He discovered how "easy it is for young New Yorkers to gain access to identification that serves no other purpose than to defraud others, especially on the issue of age."
Klein held a press conference last week to announce his release of a 37-page report—titled "Underage & At-Risk: Fake IDs & Underage Drinking in New York State"—detailing the results of his study and other underage drinking statistics, including DWI and the lack of enforcement of laws against alcohol sales to minors. The press conference was held outside of Galaxy Photo on 7th Avenue, just one of the many known vendors of fake IDs that Klein and his interns found over the summer.
At the press conference, Donna Kopec, executive director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving for New York State, expressed her support for Klein’s bill, saying, "Current studies indicate that over 16 percent of the total alcohol consumed in the US is being consumed by underage drinkers. Curtailing the easy access to alcohol that currently exists through the rampant existence of Fake IDs will make it significantly harder for youths to purchase and consume alcohol."
State Senator Bill Perkins, D-Morningside Heights and West Harlem, also expressed support for the bill, commenting that "right now we have age drinking laws, and those providing minors with fake IDs are acting as accomplices and facilitators in violation of these laws."
Some students questioned what the impact of Klein’s law would be. Chris Russell, CC ’09, wondered how effective the bill would be at tracking down ID vendors, and commented that "even if they do find some fake ID vendors, people will just turn to more underground means for obtaining the IDs. They’ll just create a black market that’s more difficult to find."
Perkins agreed that Klein’s bill would not "solve the underage drinking problem," but added that because it was "directed at the facilitator," the bill might make IDs harder to find, which would in turn "be discouraging to some minors."
"This bill is not the ‘silver bullet’ to managing the underage drinking problem," Perkins said, "But it’s a start."