Nanny State

U.S. Alcohol Laws Fuel Booming Fake ID Industry

We're all 21


Each weekend, this scene is repeated across the United States. This is a country where binge drinking is widely regarded as synonymous with college life, yet the minimum age for purchasing alcohol is 21—higher than virtually anywhere else in the developed world.

In an attempt to crack down on the practice, New York state has unveiled new driving licences engraved with a "ghost image" that floats in a transparent window and, officials proclaim, is virtually impossible to tamper with or forge.

Similar cards have been issued in Virginia since 2009, and if they prove a success the other 48 states could follow suit. Given that it is virtually impossible to purchase alcohol in the US without being asked for ID, this would make it much harder to convince bar staff or grocery store staff that an under-age purchaser is over 21.

But the sheer prevalence of bogus identity cards like that carried by Madison suggests that efforts to circumvent the authorities' latest tactics are inevitable.