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Hundreds of thousands of American college students will spend their Spring break from school on sunny beaches. While most will be law abiding, hundreds a day will be arrested for DUI, vandalism, assault, and other crimes. Many of these criminal offenses will begin with a fake ID, and proceed to alcohol abuse, followed by arrests.

Avoid arrest

Underage spring breakers from across the country are inclined to be ignorant of the severity of penalties for use, or even possession, of a fraudulent identity document in Florida, where it is a third degree felony to possess a counterfeit driver’s license or ID card. That means an underage student with a fake ID can be punished by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. If you’re over 21 and providing your own ID to a minor, you also face stiff penalties, including up to a $500 fine and up to 60 days in jail. Alabama also has tough penalties for fake ID possession. This contrasts dramatically with states like Virginia, where it is a petty misdemeanor for attempting to buy liquor with a counterfeit driver’s license.

Law enforcement will be on the lookout

“Law enforcement and state legislators are recognizing the link between underage drinking and self-destructive behavior, including alcohol influenced assault and date rape,” said Brian Zimmer, president of the Coalition for a Secure Driver’s License in Washington, D.C. “A fake ID presents a legal risk to the person who uses it and the public safety risk to the innocent victims subsequently injured or killed by the deadly combination of youthful poor judgment and binge drinking. Police need to make every effort to crack down on fake IDs and the counterfeiters who sell them.”

In December 2013, operators of a counterfeit ID operation known as “Novel Designs” in Charlottesville, VA were sentenced to significant prison time. During their three years of operation, they produced over 25,000 counterfeit driver’s licenses, including those of Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.

“Bouncers and law enforcement will be on the lookout for these IDs.” Zimmer added. “When packing your bathing suits and sunscreen for your week on the beach, we really recommend you leave fake IDs behind.”

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