Students may soon face harsher penalties
for using fake identification. The city of Ann Arbor has recently
toyed with adopting more severe consequences for using a fake I.D.
to buy alcohol and obtain admission to bars. Currently, the penalty
for using a fake I.D. is a $200 fine or 25 hours of community
service. The case is then dismissed, and the incident does not
appear on the student’s permanent record.
On Friday, however, local judges met with Doug Lewis, the
director of the University’s Student Legal Services, to
discuss possible new, more severe penalties. The city should not
enact any more consequences for using a fake I.D. Doing so would
only divert the Ann Arbor Police Department’s attention away
from more important matters, as well as contribute to the already
antagonistic relationship between students and the police.
These new measures will do little to curb underage drinking and
much to perpetuate historically antagonistic relations between
students and the AAPD. The state of Michigan already has some of
the strictest underage drinking laws in the country. For example,
the state considers a person’s body to be a container,
allowing police to give out minor in possessions citations to
students hours after they have stopped drinking. Furthermore,
people younger than 21 can even be forced to serve jail time for
multiple violations of alcohol possession laws.
Such severe regulations hurt the relationship between students
and police. The police are overly sensitive to any possible
wrongdoing by students, and in turn, the students become wary and
suspicious of the police. Enacting tougher penalties for underage
drinking will only worsen an already strained relationship.
This relationship aside, the AAPD should have more pressing
matters on its plate than underage drinking. Though illegal, the
reality is that underage drinking is an integral part of the
college experience in which many students participate. In and of
itself, responsible drinking is a safe activity. Instead of
concentrating its resources and manpower on a common and usually
harmless college pastime, the police department should focus on
more threatening criminal activities, such as those that involve
the injury of another person.
The city of Ann Arbor should not increase the penalties for
using a fake I.D. Doing so would only divert the police
department’s attention away from more important matters as
well as increase hostilities between the police and the student
body. Rather, the city should start to repair its relationship with
students by lowering restrictions on this common college habit and
work to improve safety for students and Ann Arbor residents.