The cost of faking it

Fake ID use is an issue for some establishments, but Kingston Police rarely press charges against those using them

TAPS has chosen not to purchase ID swiping machines because Student Constables are trained to identify fake documentation.
TAPS has chosen not to purchase ID swiping machines because Student Constables are trained to identify fake documentation.

There is little legal risk for underage students who attempt to enter Kingston’s bars with fake identification.

The police are rarely contacted when incidents arise. In 2012, there were just three incidents of the Kingston Police Force (KPF) charging individuals under the Liquor License Act for presenting false documentation.

Section 30.12 of the Act reads: “No person shall present as evidence of his or her age any documentation other than documentation that was lawfully issued to him or her.”

A $125 charge can be fined to those breaking this law. But, licensed establishments often take enforcement measures into their own hands.

Although the number of charges is low, Mike Wieber, the general manager at the Brass Pub said the use of fake IDs is something that bouncers at the establishment are constantly on the lookout for.

The Brass Pub is a part of the Hub Group Inc., a company that also owns the Grizzly Grill, The Ale House and Canteen and Stages Nightclub.

All these bars have ID swiping machines which read the barcodes of the ID cards.

“We usually ask for two pieces of ID and all ID is always swiped. You can’t tamper with it because [the machine] reads the bar [code] on the back,” Wieber said.

The company began purchasing the machines five or six years ago. Wieber believes having the devices deters underage people from even trying to get in.

“Usually people who have a fake ID will see the swiper and they’ll just turn around and walk away,” he said.

However, nothing is 100 per cent foolproof. Wieber’s seen people go to great lengths to fool staff members, like taking a family member’s ID and putting their own photo on the front.

When a perpetrator’s caught, the police are very rarely alerted. At The Brass Pub, fake IDs are confiscated. If there’s a second incident with that person, police are contacted.

So far this school year, the Brass hasn’t contacted the police for any incidents.

According to Melanie Boyles, the Seargent of Street Crime and a Constable with KPF, fake identification isn’t considered a prominent issue for the police.

“Fake IDs is more of a bar issue than a police issue,” she said. “It may be an issue for the bars, but they’re not calling us and saying this is a constant problem.”

Having the police more directly involved would mean stationing an officer at the door to bars and clubs, something they don’t feel is necessary.

Over the past four years, the low numbers of incidents reported have remained constant with three in 2012 and 2011, one in 2010 and two in 2009.

Ben Lewis, ArtSci ’16, has never heard of anyone in Kingston being arrested for using a fake ID but said using one is a common occurrence amongst his friends.

Lewis himself is 19 but most of his friends use novelty fake IDs, purchased in downtown Toronto. He hasn’t typically seen this type of ID accepted in Kingston.

“Usually the bouncers will give people a much harder time … they’ll laugh and tell them to get out of there,” he said. “I’ve only seen very few people get in using the total knockoffs.” Others, he said, use ID cards from an older sibling or friend.

According to him, less crowded bars are more likely to take fake IDs. He’s noticed that those with novelty cards often aren’t afraid to have their’s scanned.

“Some people are phased by it, but I know with novelty stores [in] downtown [Toronto], you can buy total knockoffs that will scan. Just from experience, you can get in,” he said. “I’ve seen people with novelty items go through a bouncer and a swiper.”

Establishments must often deal with the ramifications of false identification, as they are under the watch of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), an organization whose responsibilities include ensuring that licensed establishments don’t serve alcohol to minors.

Instead of seeing this as a “fake ID” issue, the AGCO is more concerned with those under the age of 19 getting their hands on alcohol products.

If establishments are caught serving minors, they can get their liquor license suspended by the AGCO.

“There can be cases where someone just has an awesome fake ID,” said Lisa Murray, spokesperson for the AGCO. “We’d look at the situation to determine whether the staff knew or ought to have known whether this ID was fake.”

Unlike some downtown establishments, fake ID use isn’t an active concern for the AMS Pubs Services (TAPS) and Student Constables (StuCons).

According to AMS Hospitality and Safety Services Director Keenan Randall, this is because there have been very few instances of patrons attempting to use fake IDs at AMS-owned establishments the Queen’s Pub (QP) and Alfie’s Nightclub.

“It’s not a problem we face regularly at our bars,” Randall, ArtSci ’13, said.

“Patrons are always IDed. That’s a policy we have across the board. Whether it’s an alumni or student event, we always ID.”

During the day, servers ID customers purchasing alcohol, and in the evenings, StuCons are stationed at the door.

These bars also require patrons to have a Queen’s student card or be a guest of someone with one.

StuCons are trained by Campus Security staff and upper-year constables on proper IDing practice and how to identify false documentation.

Any underage person caught attempting to enter Alfie’s or QP is banned for a six-month period, beginning on their 19th birthday. Only months between September and April are counted for this period.

When someone is caught using false identification, their case is taken to an AMS-run pub ban committee that determines the repercussions. The fabled “tri-pub ban” (QP, Alfie’s and Clark Hall Pub) may be true in practice, but not necessarily in name.

“We never actually call [it the] ‘tri-pub ban.’ [People have] called it that because we do recognize Clark Hall Pub’s ban and they recognize ours,” Randall said. “They’re not the mythical lifelong ban you hear students talk about sometimes.”

TAPS has considered purchasing the ID swiping machines, but Randall said that at the moment, it’s been determined their cost isn’t worthwhile.

“We’re at a point where we do feel that we empower our StuCons to take their time to use their best judgment.”

Randall believes that having to present both regular and student ID makes sneaking in difficult and therefore deters people from using fake IDs. The threat of a ban also serves as a deterrent.

“I think there’s a culture and myth ... students are generally cautious about doing it at our bars, because it could mean in their second or third years they might not be able to come back.”

How far can a fake take you downtown?

We sent a Journal staffer downtown during the first week of classes around 11 p.m. to test out a fake ID that was purchased in Toronto with their friend who used a legitimate ID. The staffer is 21 years old and the fake driver’s license identified them as being 23 and from Lansing, Michigan. Both the face and the name on the ID matched the staffer, but the birth date, address and the card itself was fake. In small writing on the back of the ID, there is a paragraph stating that the card should be used “solely for novelty identification.”

The Ale House, 393 Princess St.
Bouncer at the door looked at the ID and accepted it without question. No swiping device was used.

Fanatics, 371 Princess St.
Server didn’t ask for ID when a bottle of beer was ordered, and the staffer was served.

The Alibi, 293 Princess St.
Bouncer at the door accepted the ID without question.

The Spot, 394 Princess St.
Bouncer asked for a second piece of ID. When a Queen’s student card was given with a
matching name and photo, he shrugged his shoulders, stated “whatever” and the customer was allowed in.

The Toucan, 76 Princess St.
Server asked for ID when a drink was requested and the ID was accepted without question.

The Royal Tavern, 344 Princess St.
Server inside did not ask for identification and the customer was served.


All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.