Being away at college is probably your first taste of independence as you experience the world on your own for the first time. Being away from home can be an invaluable experience as you learn to care for yourself and balance academic responsibilities with your social life.

If you’re under the age of 21, you may feel limited in the enjoyment of your newfound independence because you cannot go to the bars with your older friends yet. A fake ID may seem like a smart solution but it’s not, as the risks outweigh the benefits.

What is a fake ID?

The law considers an ID fake when you possess a card that presents you as 21 years or older by the photo, birth date or age listed to obtain age-restricted items such as alcohol. Using the identification of someone of age and attempting to pass that person’s identity off as your own is also illegal. Anyone who allows a minor to use their ID for deceptive purposes is also punishable by law.

Whats the worst that could happen?

An arrest for a fake ID is a third-degree misdemeanor in Pennsylvania. The applicable statute states that the maximum penalty is a $500 fine for each offense. However, third-degree misdemeanors usually carry a maximum sentence of one year in prison and a $2,000 fine. 

Worse yet, the law states that the police must call your parent or guardian at the time of arrest. It’s likely they would hand down punishment of their own after receiving that phone call.

College is supposed to be a time of both personal and academic growth and even fun. Don’t let that fun cost you hundreds of dollars in fines and leave a mark on your permanent record. Your 21st birthday arrives sooner than you realize and can then join your friends for responsible fun.