When watching TV shows or movies, it seems like minors (especially high school-aged teenagers) have easy access to alcohol and can get into nightclubs without any consequences. In real life, that isn’t true. The legal age limit to purchase alcohol or enter specific establishments is 21 and, as a result, some minors possess and present false or fake IDs in order to appear older than they are. This is an offense and has been made a crime by the California Business and Professions Code 25661 BPC. This law is aimed at minors with fake IDs, as there are other laws that delineate crimes regarding the possession of false identity documents as an adult.
More specifically, it is illegal for a minor to possess a fake ID and/or present that fake ID in order to purchase alcohol. Furthermore, it is also a crime to use said fake ID in order to enter bars and nightclubs that are restricted to those who are aged 21 years or older. In the case of a minor being present in an establishment that is licensed to sell alcohol, both the minor and the business can be punished. For the business to be punished, the prosecution must prove that the establishment was licensed to sell alcohol and that it allowed for the minor to remain in the area. As such, business owners must be strict with age limits because if found guilty, they can face spending up to six months in county jail.
For minors, if they are caught purchasing alcohol or entering a bar/nightclub with a fake ID then they face a misdemeanor offense with the requirement of paying fines or fulfilling community service duties. The fine amount and the number of hours required for community service can increase if the minor is found to violate the code in future occasions. If an individual is accused of violating the law, specifically under 25661 BPC, they must present a defense that proves they were not a minor at the time of the supposed offense or, if they were minor, that they were not presenting the fake ID in order to purchase alcohol. However, it is important for minors to understand that they can also violate other laws by using fake IDs for other purposes.