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New York state is introducing new driver licenses engraved with a “ghost image” that floats in a transparent window, in an effort to crack down on fake IDs used for underage drinking. Other states may follow suit, BBC News reports. Virginia has used similar IDs since 2009.

Many American college students have fake IDs, the article notes. They leave home for college when they are 18, but are not legally allowed to drink until they are 21. One study of college students found about one-third had a fake ID by the end of their second year. Study author Julia Martinez noted, “Maybe Americans like the illicit part of it – they see that as a rite of passage.” She added, “The age limit will never hold some people back, but I think tightening up the law on fake ID will deter those who are on the fence. For them, I think it’s a worthwhile policy.”

A study published in 2006 found people who started drinking as teenagers were five times more likely to abuse alcohol, compared with those who waited until they were 21.

“Possession of fake ID among college students is endemic,” said Steven M. Jacoby, a Maryland lawyer who defends college students charged with possessing forged identity cards. In Maryland, someone caught with a fake ID used to purchase alcohol generally has to do community service, but the offense remains on their record for three years.

There is a large black market for fake IDs on college campuses, according to Jacoby. “Every September and January at the start of term, on every campus you will have a couple of guys from another school come down and set up shop in someone’s room with laptop and a laminating machine,” he said. “They do 100, 200 in a week, and they can be very sophisticated.”


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