Windsor bar owners fed up with fake ID
Owners consider petitioning for stiffer penalties for those who use fake or novelty identification to slip into bars
Windsor, Ont., bar owners are considering petitioning for higher fines for young partiers who use fake identification to slip past bouncers and buy alcohol.
Dave Haas, who owns the Tree House Bar on the city's main drag, Ouellette Avenue, said current laws work against bar owners and favour those using fake ID.
Haas has been fined and suspended for serving minors. He estimates he's lost close to $20,000 over the 13 years he's operated.
"There's no onus on the person who's using the ID at all, maybe they get a $125 fine and that's it," Haas said. Windsor police have only issued three tickets for fake identification in the past year.
Under the Ontario Liquor Licence Act, "no person shall present as evidence of his or her age any documentation other than documentation that was lawfully issued to him or her. The fine for that is $100 plus a $20 surcharge."
Dan Janik, head doorman of the Bank Nightclub, said on a busy night, he turns away between 50 and 75 customers he suspects are using fake identification.
"They're getting in somewhere." Janik suspects.
Janik said fake licences are other forms of identification are better today than ever before.
"It's unreal. You never used to see stuff like this back in the day," he said.
Under-age drinkers can order novelty identification online and then try to pass them off as real. One website, the ID Shack, boasts "novelty ID cards with the latest technology, Including heat bonded holograms, UV printing, magnetic strip encoding, PVC cards with current designs, all printed using a high definition printer."
A hidden camera investigation by CBC News last year revealed the novelty ID market caters to underage teenagers. It offers a range of official-looking identity cards complete with security features.
For about $50, customers can buy an identity card of their choice from almost any Canadian province or U.S. state. The card can include a real home address from the chosen area.
An extra $10 secures the customer a fake student ID card from a selection of Canadian universities.
Slight differences in colour and positioning of information are ways the phony cards can differ from the government-issued ones.
Toronto Police Service Det.-Staff Sgt. Gordon Whealy, who examined the purchased IDs during CBC's undercover report last year, said the so-called novelty cards contain enough differences to allow shops to openly sell them without interference.
Haas said he's seen novelty or fake ID from Wisconsin, New York and Ohio.
It's the bouncer's job to try and weed out who's legal, and who's not.
"We go through extensive training," Janik said. "But if they slip through we get in big trouble."
Even if the fakes are caught, bouncers and bar owners can only take them away, if they plan on reporting the incident to police.
Police understand why bar owners feel the law is not on their side. But Windsor police Sgt. Matt D'asti said they can't act if bar owners don't report the fakes.
"Now, certainly understand, it's a high high responsibility for them to deal with. But as police, we can only enforce the laws that are available to us," he said.
D'asti said use of fake ID is under reported and that bar owners would probably be calling police all night if they reported each incident.