Capital Region Legal News

Monday, March 21, 2016

Investigators Target Underage Drinking in Widespread Arrests

Can using a fake ID result in criminal charges?

Alcohol consumption by minors is a serious problem, but is the use of fake ID a criminal offense? A number of defendants in the Albany area have discovered that the answer is yes. An operation run by the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles recently resulted in 25 arrests involving underage drinking and counterfeit IDs. The arrests were part of Operation Prevent, targeting local businesses in and around Albany, including a liquor store, gas station and convenience store.

A DMV official said the businesses were extremely cooperative. The goal of the operation was to keep young people from using fake IDs to purchase alcohol and keep them out of dangerous situations, such as driving under the influence.

The sweep netted 21 fraudulent drivers licenses, as well as four that were valid but were used by someone other than the license holder. Investigators found fake out-of-state licenses from seven states. One holder of a fraudulent out-of-state license resisted arrest.

More than just a gimmick to order a drink, having a fake ID may be a criminal offense under New York law—"Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument." Depending on the circumstances, laws prohibiting identity theft, falsifying business records, and other criminal offenses could also be involved.

The user of the false ID may also end up driving drunk, causing further legal woes.

In New York, individuals under the age of 21 may not buy or have alcohol with the intent to drink it. (They may be allowed to drink under the supervision of a parent or guardian.) Drivers under the age of 21 with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .02 BAC to .07 BAC violate the Zero Tolerance Law and may face a fine and license suspension. A BAC of .08 or higher is considered evidence of intoxication for all drivers and can have serious consequences, ranging from large fines and license revocation to jail time.

The use of a fake ID may be the beginning of a series of criminal law problems. In addition to the use of the ID itself, a "driving while impaired" (DWI) arrest could cause great harm and haunt a person for life. Skilled defense counsel can advise on the specific violations, penalties, and the best legal strategy for dealing with them.

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