Fake IDs in New York – Further Notes

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We thought we should expand a bit on an entry we published some time ago about fake IDs and the consequences of using them.

Be Polite!

The consequences, we noted, may include charges ranging from mere infractions to felonies. Don’t forget that you’re actually committing a class D felony when you carry one of these things. The person issuing your citation knows that, so if you do make the mistake of using a forged license, don’t make the additional mistake of being rude to the arresting officer – we’ve heard from at least one person in a position to know that when it comes to charging, politeness counts.

Administrative Punishment for Uncharged Offenses

In that entry, we also pointed out that there will be inevitable administrative repercussions, including the suspension or revocation of your real license.

Among other things, we said that DMV doesn’t need a conviction before it takes action against you. All the law requires is a violation of the Vehicle and Traffic Law, so a mere charge is enough to trigger an administrative response.

And that’s true, as far as it goes, but DMV may take action against you, we find, even without a charge. That’s worth restating: If you use a fake ID – and if DMV can figure out who you are – your license (or, if you’re from out-of-state, your privilege to drive in New York) can be revoked without a charge ever being brought.

We’ve had more than one report confirming this.

In the typical scenario, a person under 21 walks into a bar. He or she orders a drink from the bartender, who demands to see some ID. Remember always that because of Section 260.20 of the Penal Law the bartender could spend up to a year in the county jail for serving alcohol to an underaged customer. This provides an incentive to give the card a careful look. In this typical scenario, having given the card a careful look, the bartender notices that it’s fake (Remember, too, that if something is fake there’s almost bound to be some difference between it and the real thing – and if there is a difference someone is bound, sooner or later, to notice it). The forgery is discovered and the card is confiscated – and turned in to DMV. Then DMV sends out the suspension letter we’ve described previously.

Now, if you get that letter (‘offering’ a 90-day suspension in lieu of a threatened 1-year revocation) and if – in addition – you’re in a position to dispute the allegation that you used a fake ID, you might consider refusing the suspension offer and demanding a hearing. You should be aware, however, that criminal charges could still be brought, and it’s our understanding, based on prior cases, that DMV may consider bringing criminal charges if you don’t cave in the administrative proceeding.

You’ve Given Up Your License – Now What?

If you do decide to accept the offer, you should send the form accepting the 90-day suspension – and your license – to the address on the form. DMV will date your suspension as of the date received, so you will get credit for every day after DMV receives the form and your license. However, you won’t be able to predict exactly when, to the minute, DMV will receive your materials and suspend your license. And this is why you should follow DMV’s advice: do NOT drive after mailing off your license.

You may, if you have an otherwise decent driving record, be eligible for a restricted-use license to get you to and from work or school. However, you can expect a significant gap in your driving privileges anyway. You won’t be able to apply for the restricted-use license until you actually get a further notice of suspension from DMV. This may be as much as 3 – 4 weeks down the road.