MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A significant bust and a round of spot-checks Halloween weekend have led to more than 30 citations against minors using fake identification in an attempt to gain access to bars during the month of October.
“Physically they look exactly like a regular state driver’s license,” Morgantown Police Chief Ed Preston said Tuesday on MetroNews “Talkline” with Hoppy Kercheval. “We’re having to actually physically examine them and look at various things on them.”
Preston said law enforcement in Monongalia County met with officials from the Alcohol Beverage Control Administration (ABC) and bar owners in Morgantown and the surrounding county to try and come up with a solution to the ongoing issue of fake ID’s — particularly newer, much more difficult to detect fake ID’s.
“At the beginning of the school year, we did a lot of compliance checks on a lot of the different ABC-licensed establishments — off premises and on premises — and we had a lot of violations,” Preston said.
That resulted in a commitment of more law enforcement resources, along with the use of electronic readers, to weeding out fake identification.
“We found that, because of this, [bar owners] are trying to protect their licenses and keep underage people from entering their bars,” Preston said. “They’ve been very cooperative with us towards this end.”
The full bust and the round of spot-checks led to 31 total arrests from a number of different U.S. states. The penalty includes a $500.00 fine and a suspension of driving privileges, a ramification Preston said potential violators should be aware of before making a decision they’ll regret.
“You put yourself at risk, not only for criminal penalties, but use of a fake ID also results in loss of a driver’s license,” Preston said.
Preston said some citations are a result of people borrowing or lending out ID, but that a number of these busts are from violators using a foreign web service to build custom fake identification.
“Driver’s license, state ID’s, military ID’s, just about anything that you could probably think of,” Preston said. “All 50 states, Puerto Rico, and all the other U.S. territories we are starting to see.”
Preston said WVU and a number of other local institutions — both in and out of state — also agreed to implement disciplinary measures for those caught in violation.
The Morgantown Police Department issued a public service announcement Oct. 17 on the enforcement changes.