Welcome to the VICE Guide to Life, our imperfect advice on becoming an adult.
Everyone says that you have to get a fake ID when you go to college, especially in New York.
My advice? Fuck that.
Getting a fake is stressful, costly, and a waste of time. I decided not to buy one when I went off to college and have never regretted it. Here’s why.
1. It’s illegal
I’m assuming VICE’s lawyers want me to put this first, so here goes: Buying a fake ID is, yes, against the law of the land. The penalties for using fake identification vary from state to state in the US—in New York, you could potentially be facing a misdemeanor or even a felony charge. Tons of fake ID usage will inevitably go unnoticed and unpunished, but if you get unlucky, they can throw the book at you, which would suck.
2. You might get scammed
Buying a fake doesn’t mean you are actually going to get a fake. Whether it’s through some frat boy who knows a guy or a sus website your buddy used once, you are paying for something that you have no guarantee you will ever receive. There are no Yelp reviews for this—some sites (and people) will deliver to some and scam others. Buyer beware.
Right now, a decent fake will cost you in the ballpark of $100. You might be able to get a deal if the supplier is doing a two-for-one deal or a group discount, but others can run you upwards of $200 per solo fake. Even it that’s chump change for you, you’re also buying something that’s sole purpose is to allow you to spend more money. Think about that.
Plenty of bars don’t check fakes rigorously. Others do. Places that “don’t card” will start carding all of a sudden, then stop, then start again. No matter what, going out with a fake includes an element of chance that, to me at least, is a prohibitory pain in the ass. I’m not even a particularly anxious person, but this kind of uncertainty makes my brain go aghhhhhhhhh.
5. Things can get hairy in unexpected ways
To have a fake is to sometimes forget you have a fake and show that fake ID to a TSA worker instead of your real ID. I know this because a friend of mine did it. Things did not go well.
6. You’ll be the person “with the fake”
Let’s say everything goes according to plan. You don’t spend too much money, don’t get scammed, and get a decent-looking fake that works at some bars and liquor stores. Congratulations, you are now the person people will save in their phone as “person to text incessantly to get booze at all hours of the night.” I had someone saved in my phone for this very reason. Sorry, Camille.
7. What’s the goddamn rush?
The sad fact is, you’ve got the entire rest of your life to get drunk at shitty bars. Staying slightly more sober and focused in college is, in fact, not the worst thing for your brain or your future. My advice is, chill out. Sure, some school social scenes “require” a fake more than others, but I guarantee you there will be plenty of parties in college that you don’t need a fake for. In the meantime, read a fucking book. Watch Vine compilations. Hook up sober. Make a zine. Learn how to cook one or two things well. Form some friendships that don’t revolve around alcohol. Maybe even get your money’s worth and go to class occasionally. In a few short years you’ll be legal and can get blasted without all the stress and hassle anyway. But whatever, I’m not your dad.
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