With laser printers, fancy paper and sophisticated technology, spotting a fake ID is harder today than it ever has been. But it's Mike Fetterley's job to make sure that those who check IDs know what to look for.
Fetterley, an inspector with the Oregon Liquor Control Commission is a member of the Partnership Coalition, which also includes the Benton County Health Department, Clodfelter's Public House, the Corvallis Fire Department, the Corvallis Police Department, Oregon State Police, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, OSU Center for Fraternity and Sorority Life, Squirrel’s Tavern, Washington Street Liquor Store, OSU Student Health Services and the OSU Office of Student Conduct.
Fetterley trained local retailers Tuesday evening in how to spot fake IDs during the Benton County Liquor Licensee Training session at the Corvallis Elks Lodge.
The goal of Tuesday's training session was to educate clerks, bartenders and other retailers who sell alcohol on how to verify identification and spot signs of intoxication. The ongoing goal is to reduce underage drinking in Benton County.
Fetterley said he’s trained dozens of Benton County retailers over several years, but each year new technologies are making the job of spotting fake IDs more difficult.
“We used to see huge variation from really cheap ones that looked like a 4-year-old did it with a crayon to high-end ones that were specially manufactured," Fetterley said Tuesday during the training. "Those old homemade IDs are a thing of the past ... and now you can get the good ones for much cheaper.”
While there are ID scanners and other technology designed to differentiate between real and fake IDs, Fetterley said that a well-trained employee is far more effective.
“People designing those machines cannot program them fast enough to keep up with all of the changes in the fake IDs,” Fetterley said.
As part of the training, a dozen retailers examined some fake IDs that Fetterley has collected over the year to learn about the subtle differences between what's real and what's not.
Gary Evans, the general manger at Clodfelter's, said the training has been invaluable to his employees.
“I’ve been doing this for 30 years, and sometimes you can just touch the ID to know it’s not real. So the hands-on training of learning the touch and the feel of the fake IDs and how that compares to real ones keeps you fresh,” he said. “We handle IDs all the time where they’re cardstock or the ID print goes to the edge, and Oregon’s don’t do that, so you start to pick up on these things. We’re a high-volume college bar, so I think it’s really important that we try to stay on top of the best knowledge we can get.”
Evans said a major reason why machines are not helpful is that people often use someone else’s ID.
“It’s a huge issue that we address every day,” Evans said. “One of the things in the training is verifying ID and making sure (the person) who is standing in front of you matches the face on the ID. That’s a challenge.”
Allowing underage drinking can cost a business serious money. Selling alcohol to a minor is a class A misdemeanor in Oregon. It can mean a fine of $1,650 for the first violation, $4,950 for a second violation and a 30-day suspension of a liquor license for a third violation within two years.
“It takes forever to pay for that violation because you have to pay the fine and it’s an expense that you’re never going to recoup,” Evans said. “We’re in it to try to make a living, and if we get a $1,600 ticket, that’s part of a refrigerator that we can’t replace because we spent the money on a ticket.”
The Partnership Coalition provides the retailer training each year in the spring and fall to coincide with the conclusion of spring break and the start of the OSU fall term.
“With the college in town, we get a lot of IDs from out of state and international IDs, and it can be very important to get an idea of what to look for and actually be able to touch them,” said Kelly Locey, the Partnership Coalition manager and Benton County Health Department coordinator.
More information on the coalition and the training is available at 541-766-6247.