A new California state bill, which will go into effect January,
will make the possession of any material for the use of making
false IDs a crime.

The focus of this law is directed toward the larger concern of
criminals using false IDs to threaten the United States’
national security. University police, Westwood businesses, and the
Los Angeles Police Department do not consider underage students
using false IDs to gain access to liquor to be a priority in their
battle against the false ID trade.

However, lieutenant Mathew St. Pierre of the LAPD said the
problem of minors violating liquor laws with false IDs is a concern
that “has an effect on establishment owners and underage
drinkers who abuse alcohol.”

First-year biology student Timmy Bustos said the new bill would
probably not help the problem of underage students using false IDs
to obtain alcohol.

“That might help the problem, but people are still going
to find a way to get one if they really want it,” Bustos
said.

In previous cases, it was difficult for law enforcement officers
to obtain convictions for criminals running false ID mills because
the existing law prohibited only the actual manufacture and sale of
a false IDs. This meant police officers needed to catch criminals
in the act of making or selling the IDs. Under the new bill,
authorities can arrest counterfeiters for simply owning the
equipment with the intent to mass-produce false IDs.

Assembly Bill 1069, introduced by Assemblywoman Cindy
Montañez, will target fake driver’s licenses from any
state, passport, immigration papers and documents of identification
from any international government.

Rocky Rushing, Montañez’s chief of staff, said the
law was changed because Montañez and her colleagues recognized
the grave threat false IDs pose to the United States’ economy
and national security.

He added the use of false IDs “costs American businesses
$5 billion a year.”

Offenders of the new law, once it is in effect, will have a
misdemeanor and can be faced with a fine of up to $1,000 and a year
in jail.

Rushing said Montañez had hoped to make the possession of
the equipment to make fake IDs a felony, but was not able to pass
that version of the bill through the Senate Public Safety
Committee.

Rushing called the new state bill “an important step in
addressing the problem of false IDs.”

“This is the first bill we’ve had on the
subject,” he added.

Fake IDs can be found on the Internet and can be difficult to
distinguish from the real, state-issued licenses.

But the biggest concern for the LAPD is not youth using IDs to
get alcohol, but the criminal use of fake IDs, which St. Pierre
said is a growing problem.

St. Pierre described the use of fake IDs as a “huge”
problem in Los Angeles, and the problem has become a priority for
the LAPD because of issues like homeland security.

The problem of minors using false Ids for the purchase of liquor
“is not one of the primary issues for us, but it is an
issue,” St. Pierre said.

Westwood restaurant and store owners agree that the use of false
IDs is not a major issue for them.

“We don’t have a lot of problems with fake IDs. Very
rarely do we see any,” said Bret Skehan, manager of
BJ’s Restaurant & Brewery in Westwood.

“Our cashiers are required to ask everybody for
identification from anyone seeking to purchase alcohol. They
require that birthdates be imputed into the computer before every
purchase,” said Ralph’s spokesman Terry
O’Neil.

Both Skehan and O’Neil said employees simply refuse to
sell alcohol to a customer if they are suspicious of the ID.

Mimi Newton, a third-year mathematics student, said she
considers fake IDs a “minor” problem at UCLA because
“a lot of students find other ways to (get alcohol),”
like trying to find an older person who they look like.

Nancy Greenstein, director of Police Community Services, said
arrests of people making fake IDs is “an occasional
occurrence at UCLA.”

“I don’t think it’s very likely that (the new
bill) will affect anything,” Newton said. “I think
(counterfeiters) are pretty careful. They’re already doing
something illegal. I don’t think making the punishment more
strict is going to help.”

Bustos said if consequences are severe, counterfeiters will be
deterred.

“(The bill) is an important step because if the law is
there, then people are going to get scared.” Bustos said.

Rushing said the key effect of the bill will be cutting off the
source of fake IDs.

“If we’re successful in shutting down a portion of
these document mills, I think it will make it more difficult to
secure these false IDs,” Rushing said.