Editor’s note: The Michigan Daily chose to store the writer anonymous due to the illegal activities the writer participated in and also includes in the story.

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How genuine is her fake?

Some imperfections the bouncers are looking for: glue lines; increased edges in ~ the photo; no shadows top top the picture background; keys or “authentic” in the hologram; alterations in the state logo; writing on the back; corresponding signature; height of person; shade of card features; blurry text or printing; magnetic strip embedded in the card; uniform font; alterations in the DOB; exactly holograms; peeling at the edges; texture and weight; to press details

Insider’s Tip: The just ‘t’ top top the old Michigan ID the doesn’t have actually a curve at the bottom is in “Height”

9 p.m. | The seat of the chair is worn, and also I deserve to feel the frayed edge of the leather together my feet hang over the ground. The air is hot and also sticky just inside the door.

A few tables are open, and the crowd at the bar is just one person deep. The lights are dimmed, yet it no seem particularly dark. Ns don’t an alert the volume the the various other noise in the bar.

“We’re not FBI agents. We’re not supposed to be experts at spotting every tiny detail in a fake ID,” claimed Russell Dobson, picking up from wherein he left off. “Like you said, you have the right to buy some of these IDs from China that look 100 percent authentic, and also they’re tough to catch.”

Five minutes previously on the Thursday the Welcome Week, ns walked into an excellent Time Charley’s and also handed Dobson, a bouncer in ~ the well-known campus bar on south University Avenue, among my fake IDs — a driver’s license from Maine that reflects I’m 22 and living at an deal with I never ever bothered come memorize.

He permit me in.


It’s 7:30 p.m. In the middle of August. The sunlight is still up. Nearly all the tables exterior are filled, seated for dinner, but inside the tables are mainly empty.

Kyle Froelich, the manager in ~ Charley’s well-known simply together “Fro,” towers over me, and also even once we’re seated at a table, it’s tough not to feel intimidated — fear even.

But it’s not his height that’s gaining to me. 2 weeks earlier I was below celebrating mine 21st birthday. And also months prior to that i was here drinking illegally, handing one of my four IDs to the servers and bouncers in ~ the door after 9 p.m.

Now below I am, sitting down for my an initial interview, hope that once I do it to the finish I have enough courage to spread out my contraband on the table, look each of the gatekeepers to my social life in the eye and tell them: You offered alcohol come a minor.


Since may 2008, a grasp of Ann Arbor restaurants and also stores v liquor licenses have actually been charged v “sale come minor” by the Michigan Liquor regulate Commission. However, none of these have gone to the an ext popular downtown bars, in i beg your pardon bar entry ~ 9 p.m. For anyone under the period of 21 is illegal — though part legally enable minors in the bar or restaurant if attach by a parental or guardian.

According come Douglas Lewis, the manager of student Legal Services, plenty of students in Ann Arbor captured with fake identification are not turned end to police by the bars.

“A human will it is in asked for their identification. As soon as they fumble for it, the fake is visible within of their wallet or purse,” Lewis said. “You don’t need to be to buy alcohol, simply possessing (a fake ID) is illegal.”

Using false or one more person’s identification to purchase alcohol is a misdemeanor punishable by approximately 93 days in jail, a good no more than $100 or both, follow to Sgt. Bob Pfannes of the Ann Arbor Police Department skilled Standards Section.

Students no the just ones at risk. Employee at Ann Arbor bars deserve to be cited v a misdemeanor punishable through 60 work in jail, a $1,000 good or both because that the an initial offense because that knowingly permitting the usage of false identification.

Additionally, 3 citations in ~ a single location within one year can result in a suspension the the bar’s liquor license, said Pfannes.

Though the punish is severe, plenty of bars expropriate that lock can’t record every fake — and also when it comes to the law they don’t have to.

The Michigan Liquor regulate Code asks businesses to do a “diligent inquiry” — this is further defined as a “diligent great faith effort” using an main photo id — to verify the who identity and also age. If the MLCC provides several resources to help businesses meet this requirement, exactly how bars decide to screen their customers is left approximately the owners.


In December, ns bought my 2nd fake ID. My old one had actually me transforming 27 in February and also with all of my friends transforming 21 over the next few months i didn’t want to it is in left out.

At the time, the website www.idchief.com had its “novelty” version of the Pennsylvania driver’s patent splashed across the home page together its finest product. Swipe, hologram and also black light — the all checked out. Matt Dedes, assistant manager in ~ Rick’s American café on Church Street, heard about an influx of Pennsylvania IDs the were particularly challenging to catch.

“I psychic last loss they were starting to come in and then clearly we started to hear word the there were whole sororities bespeak them,” he said. “Obviously, us discriminate against Pennsylvania now.”

Ann Arbor bars only have so many ways to determine if an identifier is legitimate and not just created with an high value printer. Cards through magnetic strips can be swiped with credit card machines, and also a actual magnetic strip will certainly register in the system and display “invalid card.”

UV lights, also known as black color lights, will reveal concealed images in some state identifications — the new Michigan driver’s license carries a bright environment-friendly print the the cardholder’s picture on the back.

For few of the much better fakes, favor the ones native Pennsylvania, the bouncers in ~ Rick’s will inspect the University’s virtual student directory and also compare the day the account was developed to the date of birth. One account produced within the previous two years usually method the college student is underage.

With up to 700 IDs passing by the bouncers throughout a liven night, anyone is working at the door needs to stay alert, Dedes said.

“There’s just little things you can look for,” Dedes explained. “If they’re standing outside and also kind of mentioning stuff, us overhear the chatter. For this reason we’ll throw a signal down to the door guy and say watch because that this one here.

“A lot of of world come, they’ve currently had a couple of drinks, they don’t realize how much their voice carries i guess.”


11:30 p.m. | there is a pad and also pen ~ above the hostess was standing with 4 signatures scrawled across.

“I desire you to authorize your name prefer you have it signed top top this license,” Dobson said while stop the girl’s license.

Dobson and also Tim, a previous bouncer assisting in ~ the door at Charley’s who asked for to have his name readjusted to safeguard his identity, room sharing among their approaches for weeding the end minors utilizing someone else’s ID. Ns doubt castle usually carry out this, yet it can’t hurt to be extra mindful when you space being watched.

“See, that’s a quite surefire way. That was certainly her signature,” Dobson said.

“You need to really take the moment to learn the detailed ways of how the other person signs their name,” Tim explained.

“Then they worthy a drink,” Dobson added.

Dobson and also Tim went through a shadowing procedure as component of your training that contained at least two move at the door. It didn’t sound like enough, however by the end of the night ns feel qualified because that the task — at least the screening component of it.

“I actually acknowledge the provincial driver’s patent from India now because I watch them therefore often,” Dobson said.

For the to know cards he doesn’t recognize, he deserve to consult one ID recommendation book listed by the state. Every restaurant and also bar that serves alcohol is supposed to have one, complete with pictures of the different versions of precious IDs native every state and descriptions of security functions to look at for. Numerous of the bars have a separate publication with international forms of identification together well.

It come in handy as soon as someone hands Dobson a driver’s license from Delaware. “A Delaware license, alright, let’s have fun,” that says. “Let’s see exactly how legit this Delaware patent is.”

He isn’t suspicious; the genuinely doesn’t recognize what a Delaware patent is claimed to watch like. If he had actually seen a couple of them, he can not have actually noticed the horses missing from the blue area on top.

“I’ve got poor news because that you. Whoever sold you this gave you the dorn seals. Have a an excellent night.”


Sandwiched between Charley’s and also The Blue Leprechaun on south University avenue is an additional bar. Because that someone new to Ann Arbor it no look that different, however the crowd seated external is a bit less rowdy than the one down the street.

I had only been to The Brown Jug double before: when to pick up food and also another time to sign up with a bar crawl — I had actually to meet the rest of the group at the next stop.

Daniel Martinez, one of the bouncers in ~ the Jug, only demands a moment to refuse my ID: “This is expired, execute you have anything else?”

Luckily, I’m armed with a an excellent excuse, though i doubt the actually-I’m-writing-a-story-for-The-Michigan-Daily regime will work more than a couple of times.

This is the 2nd place to refuse mine real-but-expired ID due to the fact that I’ve rotate 21 — the other was Bar Louie on eastern Liberty Street.

Martinez is sitting through me in ~ a table through the door watching because that anyone who enters. It’s early on so there is only one human being assigned come the door. It only takes him a couple seconds come scan each card — a hair much less than many of the other bouncers i have seen.

The procedure is crisp, clean, methodical — card, 2, 3, card, 2, 3.

He’s looking in ~ the ID, compare the photo to the human who handed it to him, verifying the birth date and also expiration date, but he’s doing something rather too. While the reads the information his hand instinctively pulls on the corners of the map so the light catches the holograms, and also his finger swipes the ago of the card.

If the magnetic piece on the map is genuine you can’t feeling a lip, however the surface has an ext friction.

Martinez tells me the he turns away about three IDs a week during his three shifts in ~ the door. I recognize why mine friends never ever text me “Jug tonight?” and also my friends no the only ones.

The Jug is known for being a minefield because that fakes.

“We don’t take it (the ID) far anymore. We give it back,” Martinez said. “People come and complain about it.”


Pens, cardboard squares, my dignity — ns ready.

“Hi, would you like to take an anonymous inspection for The Michigan Daily?”

Students stand in heat at Charley’s have actually plenty the time to fill it out.

My recorder is tucked away in mine bag — the day-to-day has a for sure policy around never interviewing people under the influence. I still recorded pieces that conversations together students waited to enter.

“Rick’s has acquired a lot of stricter recently.”

“Is this a sex survey?”

“Skeeps is favor swiss cheese.”

“This write-up is awesome.”

“I was 28 in mine ID.”

“Conor O’Neill’s took mine.”

“The Jug took mine.”

“Will this get everyone in trouble?”


“Obviously, everyone the comes in has a valid ID. That our job to do the finest judgment on whether or not it’s fake,” says Ed Evers, Scorekeepers Sportsgrill & Pub manager, together he leans closer throughout the bar.

“Everyone has actually a fake ID, specifically on a university town,” the said. According to Evers, Skeeps will usually confiscate an id if the human tries to fight the bar’s decision.

“If they simply kind of walk away it’s simply like: OK, every right, currently we understand what to look for, they’ve come in before,” Evers said. “We’ve seen their fake. Us were the judge and jury top top that.

“So yeah, we’ll just let castle walk away v it.”


Midnight | The bar is full, the line is come the street and it seems prefer everyone is drunk.

“Also in a birthday party, 20 bucks there’s constantly a fake ID, always,” Tim said. “What are the possibilities at a date of birth party the only one in her pack turns 21?

“Usually they’re yes, really annoying since they want special therapy … We see so numerous a night that we don’t care. Ns don’t care.”

Dobson is holding increase the line currently to keep the bar native overflowing. The bargoers can either wait in line or wait at the bar.

“Nope. It’s not real, have a pretty night,” Dobson tells one persistent guy, whose threat to speak to the police drops flat. “Call whoever friend want, just step external while you execute it,” Dobson says.

Dobson is forced to step away indigenous his article to try and usher the male on his mobile outside.

“We run the present in here, and also people nothing realize that sometimes,” Tim explains as he steps up come block the line. The next human being attempts to happen me their ID, reasoning I’m a bouncer and also ignoring the step to their right.

Dobson at some point returns to his spot next to the hold stand. He let the guy organize on to his fake.

“The Pennsylvania IDs have all the county names in them. Ns couldn’t see those,” he says.” there are lots of fake Pennsylvania IDs going around, for this reason I’d quite err top top the next of caution.”

He takes a sip from his water.


Ashley’s desires your ID.

That is, if the fake.

“We market our master an catalyst for catching fakes,” Ashley’s manager Jerome Higgins tells me. “Every fake that they catch they obtain $5 in pub bucks.

“When we catch one, we keep it,” that adds. “We could get one or 2 (fake IDs) a week.”

Higgins isn’t too involved over minors attempting to gain into Ashley’s on State Street. He to know the crowd right here is a little older and more mature, no just any type of student is trying to gain in.

“We don’t quiz civilization on info too often,” that said. “If you have a fake and also you i can not use bothered memorizing it, well …”


“I’d choose to think that we’re really thorough and very strict in comparison come other locations — no name mentioned.”

The bouncers at Blue Lep will identify and also turn earlier somewhere in between 10 to 30 false IDs throughout a liven night, follow to general manager Scott Meinke.

“A lot of what we acquire with fake IDs space misrepresentations, and also those room really the hardest ones come catch because obviously human being can adjust their watch pretty quickly — hair color, placing on weight or losing weight, cutting their hair.”

Most of the managers and also bouncers in ~ the other bars agree. With an ext than 5,000 students in the senior class alone — most of whom space 21 or larger — possibilities are friend can discover someone that looks favor you or to know someone that does.

Besides the straightforward structure of her face, height within a few inches and eye shade (and also here you just need to remember to insurance claim you are wearing contacts), you have the right to fly under the bouncers’ “diligent inquiry” and also into the watering feet of your choice.

Meinke was not eager to sit down through me. ~ a video game of call tag, a Friday night sitting at the bar waiting to talk to him and what was plainly my best weapon in gathering information (all-out begging), i was relieved to gain him to sit down through me because that a brief interview.

Though the my last interview, there room still a couple of butterflies left. As lot as ns love Charley’s, Blue Lep is whereby you can usually discover me once I’m on southern U.

This is no a man I desire to piss off.

I can see a flash of remorse in his eyes when I give him the news — his bouncers aren’t doing the task he assumed they were. According to Meinke, they have a clear policy: If the identifier is expired, bouncers do not expropriate them.

On the table space the two culprits — 2 expired IDs from brand-new York. One was offered to me by a friend after she turned 21 (it had been her older sister’s in a previous life). The other is real. In fact it’s my ID, however today is 37 days past the expiration date and also “UNDER 21” is printed in red alongside my picture.

He take away a bit longer to respond as soon as I reveal the truth around my real one, however it’s understandable why not just his staff, yet most of the nearby bars end up admitting recently expired IDs.

The employee at Charley’s all yet ignores the expiration date, and despite what the assistant manager in ~ Rick’s said me, the bouncers seem to follow a different policy.

I think the second ID stings a little more. It’s lengthy past its expiration date, and while I can look similar enough come the photo to pass a ring of questioning, my check at Blue Lep has actually never included any words besides “ID, please” and also “thank you.”

“You’ve provided this identifier to gain in here? Hmm, fine — congratulations,” Meinke speak me.

He asks me a couple of questions around where the ID came from, then admits the he would more than likely let me in v it together well. “As I stated before, misreps are the hardest come get,” the says.


12:20 p.m. | Zack Frorenza, one more regular bouncer in ~ the door, has actually stepped in come pinch hit together the line swells. Dobson and also Tim are stationed adjacent to continue to enforce your brand of Charley’s law.

An AAPD officer measures inside and also takes a look around.

“It’s the first time I’ve ever before seen one come in,” Frorenza said to me. According to Tim, there was one more walkthrough about a month ago.

Waiters sirloin by the door, pitchers of beer splashing ~ above the ground. Waitresses hurry to close tabs behind me.

The present of civilization doesn’t avoid until 1:08 a.m., yet the fakes keep coming.

The id reference book reveals a fake Maryland ID through a seal about double the size it is supposed to be. The owner speak me she obtained it native Toronto.

After handing off their ID, some civilization will effort to recreate the look at of their photograph — one lifts his hat and also flashes a vast smile.

Others immediately hand credit cards over with the photograph identification — in most instances this leader to much more suspicion.

I mental Dobson informing me earlier, “You can gain your friend’s credit transaction card just as quickly as friend can gain their ID.”

One man is prepared, armed with a passport and two credit transaction cards. After receiving his stamp and also sliding towards the side of the bar ns spot a smile slowly broadening and his friend elbows him in the side.

The security staff isn’t just responsible for scanning IDs. Castle move around the restaurant guarding against any signs of violence, too much intoxication or world trying come hop the fence outside.

We catch a girl attempting to go into with the same ID together someone earlier, most likely passed end the fence by her friend. Nerves are by much the biggest giveaway. Two IDs take it a shaky path into the bouncer’s hands, and more than a few questions are answered v a warble.

Others placed on one act, conveniently answering their phones after ~ the handoff or do the efforts to distract the bouncers.

“They automatically turn your head and talk to your friend prefer I’m no gonna notice,” Dobson said, turning his head in pantomime.

The 3rd glass that the night is nudged turn off the rail in ~ the bar, shattering in the center of server thoroughfare.

Frorenza tells someone that can’t accept his ID since it’s expired, despite enabling several upright IDs signifying under 21 in moments before. “It wasn’t him, but that’s just less complicated to call him” he says.

That reminds me of the last time i was denied at Charley’s. The bouncer said me that couldn’t accept my ID because it to be expired. When I pressed on about the rejection the added: “I also don’t think it’s you.”

Come come think of it, ns think Dobson turned under my Maine identifier the an initial time i tried to use it.

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There is no such thing as a perfect game in this job, but 18 refuse IDs is pretty good for one night.