Fake IDs in Wisconsin: More than a ticket into the bar

Wondering what kind of trouble you can get into for possession of fake IDs in Wisconsin?  Van Severen Law Office, S.C. explains.

Whether or not the law appreciates it, thousands of underage individuals throughout Wisconsin regularly engage in drinking alcohol.  Some of those individuals find adults to purchase their beverages.  Others sneak into bars or steal liquor from their parents.  And a small portion of individuals possess a fake ID and use that ID to get ahold of alcohol in a variety of ways.  Some consider it a rite of passage.  The cops don’t, and if you’re caught, this seemingly harmless activity could result in a record that will remain with you for the rest of your life.

Possession of a fake ID (also known as falsification of proof of age) is punishable by a fine of $300.00 – $1,250.00, suspension of the user’s operating privilege, and community service or a supervised work program.  These penalties apply to individuals carrying a fake ID, altering their own ID card to show that he has obtained the legal drinking age, or presenting false information to an issuing officer when applying for an official identification card.  This is not a criminal offense, but instead a municipal violation.  Many other sources of information on the internet incorrectly claim that this offense is criminal and will result in a criminal record.  It will not.

Criminal penalties only apply to individuals producing fake identifications, and those penalties escalate to felonies when that activity is done for financial benefit.

Our criminal defense attorneys help individuals work through both criminal and and municipal violations.  Although simple possession is not a crime, it is an ordinance violation and could still create issues with various professional licenses, security clearances, or careers generally.  Contact Van Severen Law Office, S.C. at (414) 270-0202 immediately to speak with a criminal defense lawyer about your options.

What kind of penalties apply for creating fake identification cards?

Again, although possessing a fake is only a ticket, production of fake IDs is a crime in Wisconsin.  The following penalties apply:

  • Making, altering, or duplicating an official identification card, or providing an official identification card to an underage person is an unclassified misdemeanor, punishable by 10-30 days in jail and $300.00 – $1,250.00 in fines.
    • This penalty also applies for possession of an official identification card used for proof of age with the intent to provide it to an underage person.  Situations like this might apply to an individual who facilitates the sale of a fake ID.
  • Doing any of the actions listed above for money or other consideration is a Class I felony, punishable by up to 3.5 years in prison, $10,000.00 in fines, or both.
Not many individuals produce fake identification cards for their friends for free.  Many likely charge a small fee to cover materials and the time needed to produce the forged document.  The government begins to crack down when profit gets involved.  Penalties escalate from a simple misdemeanor to a low-level felony when any kind of money or other consideration for producing the ID is involved.  “Consideration” means anything else of any kind of worth.  Consideration could include any kind of bartering.  For example, producing a fake ID card and trading that card for a few bottles of booze would trigger the felony-level offense.

How do law enforcement officers know a Wisconsin driver license is fake?

Although you might think bouncers or cops aren’t smart enough to notice a fake ID, new Wisconsin identification cards and driver licenses have features that makes their reproduction even more difficult.  For example, these documents have:

  • Laser tactile engraved data:  Wisconsin driver license and identification cards include various forms of lettering that are laser-engraved to have raised, tactile edges.  Take a look at your driver license number, and feel how the edges are raised.  This is difficult to duplicate and is easy to detect if missing.
  • Laser engraved micro lettering: Directly beneath your picture on both cards, you’ll find various data written in extremely small lettering.  The government uses lasers during the lettering process, resulting in raised edges.  This feature is extremely difficult to reproduce without specialized equipment.
  • Overlapping data: Your picture, your signature, and the laser engraved micro lettering overlap near the bottom of your picture.
  • Under 18 and under 21 features:  While this does not make it harder to reproduce Wisconsin identifications, it does help to prevent liquor and tobacco sales to underage individuals.  You’ll find these pieces of information, if applicable, under your picture.
  • Laser engraved variable data tactile wave feature:  Beneath the holographic reproduction of your picture (on the right side of a Wisconsin driver license), you’ll find a wave of information – including your name and date of birth.  You’ll notice that the government also laser-etches this data.
The interior of a bar that serves alcohol.
Bars can be fun, but using fake IDs to gain entry can lead to more trouble than it’s worth. If you’re cited for this offense (or charged for production of IDs), contact Van Severen Law Office, S.C. immediately. We can help. (414) 270-0202.

What should you do if stopped with a fake ID in Wisconsin?

If you’re facing an ordinance violation or criminal charge, your first step should be to contact a criminal defense attorney.  Many firms, including ours, offer free consultations.  During that free consultation, we’ll talk about your options, our fees, how we can help, and a potential path forward.  Allowing us to get involved in your case in the beginning keeps many possibilities for helping you open.  Waiting until it becomes an issue later in life results in a much more difficult situation.

This information applies to all forms of offenses involving fake IDs.  Whether you’re cited for possession, or you’re criminally charged with a felony, an attorney can help.  On the lower end of things, keeping your record clean is an important goal.  In felony cases, sometimes reductions are possible.  Other times, things such as jury trial become appropriate.  With prison as a possibility in felony cases, avoiding that consequence is always important.

Finally, you can contact our firm 24/7 at (414) 270-0202.  We look forward to helping you.

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