Alcohol Server’s Guide to Identifying Fake IDs and Preventing Underage Drinking

As an alcohol server, one of your most important responsibilities is ensuring the responsible service of alcohol and preventing underage drinking. By verifying customer age through proper identification checks, you play a significant role in promoting public safety and reducing alcohol-related risks. In this blog post, we will discuss the process of identifying fake IDs and outline the best practices alcohol servers can employ to prevent underage drinking and maintain compliance with state laws.

Underage drinking presents potential risks to both the individual and the community, as it can lead to impaired driving, alcohol poisoning, and other dangerous behaviors. As a key line of defense against these risks, alcohol servers must stay vigilant and well-prepared to spot and refuse service to those attempting to use false identification.

In the following sections, we will explore the challenges alcohol servers face in detecting fake IDs, describe common red flags to identify fraudulent documents, and provide practical tips and resources to bolster your confidence and capabilities in recognizing and addressing these situations. By honing your skills in identifying fake IDs and upholding responsible alcohol service standards, you can contribute to the overall safety and well-being of your customers and community, while safeguarding your establishment against potential fines and liabilities.

Challenges in Identifying Fake IDs

Detecting fake IDs can be a challenging task, as the sophistication of counterfeit identification documents has significantly increased over the years. Counterfeiters have access to advanced technology and equipment that enable them to produce high-quality fakes, making it increasingly difficult for untrained individuals to spot subtle discrepancies. To overcome these challenges, alcohol servers must stay up-to-date on the latest trends in fake IDs and develop a strong understanding of the distinct characteristics found in genuine identification documents.

Common Red Flags and Tips for Detecting Fake IDs

Being able to identify the common red flags and discrepancies associated with fake IDs is paramount for alcohol servers. Here are several key points to consider when examining a customer’s ID:

1. Physical Characteristics: Check for discrepancies in the feel, thickness, weight, or texture of the ID. Common issues in fake IDs include laminate peeling, improper lamination, or noticeable creases or cracks.

2. Security Features: Examine the various security features present on genuine IDs, such as holograms, UV markings, or microprinting, and verify their presence and accuracy on the customer’s ID.

3. ID Photo: Assess the quality and placement of the customer’s photograph, ensuring it matches the person presenting the ID. Look for signs of tampering, such as blurriness, mismatched borders, or inconsistent backgrounds.

4. ID Information: Verify the accuracy and consistency of the personal information provided on the ID, such as the name, address, age, and signature. Look for inconsistencies, misspellings, or out-of-place font styles or sizes.

5. Expiration and Issue Dates: Ensure the ID has not expired and the issue date is valid for the customer’s claimed age.

Resources and Tools for Spotting Fake IDs

Alcohol servers can utilize several tools and resources to enhance their ability to detect counterfeit identification documents:

1. ID Checking Guides: Obtain a current ID checking guide that provides detailed information on the security features and formatting of IDs issued across the United States, including drivers licenses, state IDs, and passports.

2. UV Light Source: Use a UV light source to inspect hidden security features, such as UV markings or holograms, found on many genuine IDs.

3. Barcode Scanners or Smartphone Apps: Consider using a barcode scanner or smartphone app specifically designed for verifying IDs. These tools can quickly check the encoded information on an ID’s barcode or magnetic stripe, often revealing discrepancies in fake IDs.

Implementing Strict ID Check Policies and Staff Training

Employing strict ID check policies and providing proper training to all staff members are crucial to maintaining consistent practices in preventing underage drinking. Consider the following steps to strengthen your establishment’s commitment to responsible alcohol service:

1. Implement a Comprehensive ID Check Policy: Establish a clear and consistent policy for checking patron IDs, outlining the specific steps staff members are required to follow when verifying identification documents.

2. Staff Training: Provide thorough training for all staff members in responsible alcohol service, including methods for detecting fake IDs, handling difficult or tense situations, and understanding the legal responsibilities associated with serving alcohol.

3. Ongoing Education: Keep staff informed of any changes or updates in identification features or laws within your state and provide regular refresher training to maintain vigilant and consistent practices.


Alcohol servers play a pivotal role in promoting public safety and preventing underage drinking by accurately verifying patron identification and refusing service to minors. By mastering the art of identifying fake IDs and staying informed about the latest trends in counterfeit identification documents, you can help protect your establishment from potential fines and liabilities while contributing to the overall well-being of your customers and the community. Commit to continued education, staff training, and the implementation of strict ID check policies to reinforce your establishment’s dedication to responsible alcohol service and abide by state regulations. Learn more about alcohol server training here.