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Possession of Fake ID or driver’s license could result in hard time

AMES, Iowa ñ Sept. 14, 2011 ñ In light of recent cases of fraudulent Identification (ID) cards and driver’s licenses involving Iowans and students from other states attending Iowa colleges, the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) is warning the public that there are serious consequences associated with possessing or displaying a fake ID card or driver’s license or altering an official card/license.

A package containing 24 fake licenses was recently delivered to students in Cedar Falls, resulting in the arrest of two individuals. More than 1,700 fake IDs, including a number destined to students attending colleges in Iowa, have been intercepted in the Chicago area in the first six months of 2011. Many other fraudulent IDs and driver’s licenses have been collected by Iowa law enforcement agencies, bars and other establishments.

“While an underage person might think it’s fun to sneak into bars and nightclubs, or purchase beer or tobacco, it won’t be fun when they get caught with a fake ID or driver’s license,” said Mark Lowe, director of the Iowa DOT’s Motor Vehicle Division.

Online counterfeiting of ID cards and driver’s licenses is on the rise; and there is a growing influx of fictitious licenses making their way into Iowa homes and college dorm rooms. To date, no production of Iowa driver’s licenses or IDs by overseas, online counterfeiters has been detected, but it is clear that Iowans and Iowa students have attempted to purchase online counterfeits of other states’ licenses and IDs.

Regardless of whether they are being counterfeited in Iowa, another state or overseas, the criminal and administrative penalties and consequences are the same. And the risk of having your identity stolen after providing your personal information, photo and signature to a stranger through a website is extremely high.

The risks go beyond just the underage student. Most parents would be horrified to learn that they could wake up tomorrow morning and find a lien is in place on their home or a credit card acquired in their name, simply because their child gave personal information to an overseas Internet site.

The Iowa DOT, in coordination with local law enforcement, Homeland Security and U.S. Customs and Border Protection agencies, will make every effort to detect and stop illegal activities associated with the issuance and possession of counterfeit driver’s licenses and IDs. But it is important that parents talk to their kids and that all Iowans, regardless of age, be aware of the risks and consequences of interacting with producers of fake driver’s licenses and IDs.

So, what are some of the potential charges that could land you in jail and/or result in a suspension of your driver’s license?

· Falsifying public documents (Iowa Code §718.5) ñ A person, having no right or authority to do so, that makes or alters a driver’s license or nonoperator’s ID, or any instrument which purports to be a state issued driver’s license or nonoperator’s ID, commits a class “D” felony. If convicted for this offense, the penalty is a minimum of 30 days and up to five years in prison, a suspension of driving privileges for up to six months, and a fine of at least $750 but not more than $7,500.
· Falsifying driver’s licenses, nonoperator’s identification cards or forms (Iowa Code §321.261A) ñ This crime is a serious misdemeanor and carries a maximum penalty of up to one year in jail, a fine up to $1,875, and a driver’s license suspension for up to six months. You can be convicted of this crime for simply possessing a driver’s license or nonoperator’s ID made by someone who does not have authority to make one.
· Use of a driver’s license or nonoperator’s identification card by underage person to obtain alcohol (Iowa Code §321.216B) ñ This crime is also a simple misdemeanor punishable by a scheduled fine of $200 and a six-month driver’s license suspension from the Iowa DOT.
· Use of a driver’s license of nonoperator’s identification card by underage person to obtain cigarettes or tobacco products (Iowa Code §321.216C) ñ A person who violates this law commits a simple misdemeanor punishable by a scheduled fine of $200 and a six-month driver’s license suspension from the Iowa DOT.
· Unlawful use of license or nonoperator’s identification card (Iowa Code §321.216) ñ An example of this type of crime is a person who has in their possession a fictitious or fraudulently altered driver’s license or ID. This is a simple misdemeanor punishable by a scheduled fine of $100 and 30-day driver’s license suspension from the Iowa DOT.

In addition to these consequences, a driver’s license suspension could result in higher auto insurance premiums for the driver and vehicle owner.|

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