Area officials speak out on false IDs for kids
By 10/26/2000 00:00:00
Ellis County Press
Is selling a false ID a crime? Admittedly, opinions of area authorities were mixed regarding the topic, but all agreed it's a problem worthy of our attention.
'Kids today think they are smarter than the system,' said Tiny Lange, director of Heartbeat Kids, an organization providing area youth with guidance and organized recreation.
'To facilitate the purchase of cigarettes and alcohol, many of today's youth carry a picture ID to get around the laws,' she told the Ellis County Press. 'Kids have told me all they have to do is go to a booth at a flea market or trade day location and ask for one. They'll take your picture and make your ID. It's that simple.
'I suggest parents and caretakers talk to their kids and see what they have in the way of false IDs, or if they run with friends who have them,' she said.
Veteran Ovilla Police Chief Sonny Pfeifer told the Ellis County Press he has worked countless accidents involving intoxicated underage drivers.
'Investigating major accidents caused by underage drinking and driving has brought some of the most heartbreaking experiences I've had in my law enforcement career,' Pfeifer said. 'When an immature person gets intoxicated, and then gets behind the wheel, that person becomes an extreme risk for every person in that vehicle or any other on the highway. Too many have lost their own life, or brought tragedy to other innocent people.'
'Making a case against those who supply false IDs to children would be difficult at best,' said Sue Finch of the Ferris PD. 'I believe the main responsibility should be placed on the vendors of alcoholic beverage. I feel many of them are so greedy they take chances with IDs so they don't miss a sale.'
Ellis County Judge Bob Carroll spoke informally on the subject with the Ellis County Press and expressed some firm beliefs about restricting the purchase of alcohol by minors.
'Perhaps the public needs a clearer understanding about what the law requires to make a case against the makers of false IDs,' Carroll said. 'If you tamper with a drivers license or falsify one, there are specific laws in place and you can be prosecuted.
'To prosecute the sale of a picture ID other than a drivers license requires sufficient evidence of intent,' Carroll said, 'but, in my opinion, the ID vendor is under some duty to exercise due care if other people might use the false information to make a decision.
'Without that dutiful care, another person, such as the vendor of alcohol, might subsequently make a mistake based on false information,' he said
'The government also can possibly make a case that the parties are involved in a conspiracy to commit a crime,' Carroll said. 'This tool is seldom used, but can be effective.
'One avenue worthy of consideration is the use of civil action against vendors and other participants in the deception, especially if their conspiracy to circumvent the law results in loss of life, major injury, or substantial monetary losses such as might occur in a major accident resulting from teen drinking.
'A civil action only requires evidence of intentional misrepresentation or negligent misrepresentation,' Carroll said. 'Large settlements certainly have a way of making a point.'