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The Daily Tar Heel

House Passes Bill Tough on Fake IDs

The bill seeks to make the use of any form of fake ID an offense equal to the use of a fake driver's license.

The bill will place the use of other forms of fake identification, including passports and college IDs, into the same misdemeanor category as drivers' licenses. If passed by the Senate and signed by Gov. Mike Easley, it will take effect Dec. 31.

Rep. Wayne Goodwin, D-Rockingham, one of the bill's sponsors, said its main purpose was to close current loopholes in fake identification laws. "Before, there was no specific prohibition of other forms of (fake) identification besides driver's licenses."

Goodwin said the bill closes a second major loophole by making it a crime to use fake IDs to enter a venue serving alcohol, even if the IDs are not used to purchase alcohol.

The bill also creates a Driver's Technology Fund, which can provide money and assistance for merchants trying to distinguish real and fake IDs.

Goodwin said no distinctions were made in the bill between minors and adults. He added that the bill operated under the existing drinking laws that state it is illegal for anyone under 21 to purchase or consume alcohol.

Austin Johnson, chairman for the N.C. chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said MADD was one of the main lobbying groups favoring the proposed legislation.

Johnson said MADD favors any effort to crack down on illegal drinking. "We support anything that reduces the frequency of kids drinking," he said.

But the bill must still be considered by the Senate. Sen. Tony Rand, D-Cumberland, said he was very confident that the bill would pass in the Senate without difficulty. He said he supported the bill for many reasons, including protecting children. "We need to stop children from killing themselves," he said.

Rand also said the Senate had increased the penalty for using and manufacturing fake IDs to felony status, but that in its final version the House changed the punishment to a misdemeanor.

Goodwin said the House passed the misdemeanor version in order to maintain consistency with the structured sentencing laws in North Carolina.

He said the bill could be viewed in a broader sense and that it might have impacts beyond alcohol consumption. "This bill goes toward personal and financial security as well as national security," he said. "It makes it unlawful to have false or fraudulent identification of any kind."

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