How Serious is a Fake ID Charge in Philadelphia?

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) publishes a biennial report discussing underage drinking and high-risk college alcohol use. You must be 21-years-old to consume alcohol legally. Their findings suggest that underage drinking is known to increase the likelihood of vehicle crashes, violence, risky sexual activity, and other harmful behavior. Those who begin drinking during their youth are also more likely to develop a dependency on alcohol.

Preventing Underage Purchasing of Alcohol

A key to reducing underage drinking is to limit access. The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board has been actively training businesses that are licensed to sell alcohol. The Responsible Alcohol Management Program (RAMP) involves working with sellers to ensure they are always verifying the age of their customers and recognizing fake forms of identification (ID).

The currently acceptable forms of ID are primarily limited to those issued by a U.S. or Canadian agency of government that has a photo.  This includes valid State ID cards, driver's licenses, U.S. Armed Forces IDs, travel visas, and passports. When inspecting an ID, sellers are encouraged to use the FEAR method. This stands for “Feel, Examine, Ask, and Return.”

Misrepresentation of Age to Secure Liquor (§6307)

This offense is intentionally committed by someone under the age of 21 that falsely presents themselves to a seller to obtain “liquor or malt or brewed beverages.” First-time adult offenders are charged with a summary offense. Any subsequent violations are upgraded to a third-degree misdemeanor. Courts are not authorized to suspend sentences.

It is important to note that juvenile offenders (under 18) are charged with delinquency instead of criminal offenses. In Philadelphia, these matters are handled by the Juvenile Branch of the Family Division of the Court of Common Pleas. A person “adjudicated delinquent” for these violations may be subject to a maximum $500 fine. Juveniles may also be eligible for adjudication alternative programs.

Purchase, Consumption, Possession or Transportation of Liquor (§6308)

This offense is intentionally committed by someone under the age of 21 that “attempts to purchase, purchases, consumes, possesses or knowing transports” alcoholic beverages. The alleged violation is charged as a summary offense. In violations involving juvenile offenders, the police department making the arrest must notify the parents or legal guardian of the minor.

Manufacture or Sale of False ID Card (§6310.2)

This is a crime that may be committed by manufacturing or otherwise creating a false form of identification. It also applies when someone modifies or alters an existing form of identification. It may be committed by attempting to sell or selling a form of identification that contains a false name, photo, date of birth, etc.

First-time offenders will have a minimum of a $1,000 fine imposed. Any subsequent offenses will result in a minimum of a $2,500 fine being imposed. Courts are not authorized to order more than the maximum sentence or to suspend sentences.

Carrying a False ID Card (§6310.3)

This offense is intentionally committed by someone under the age of 21. It may involve having possession of a form of identification that contains false information indicating the holder is at least 21 years old. It may involve using a fake or altered ID to obtain alcohol. This offense also applies when an underage individual uses someone else's ID in an attempt to obtain alcohol.

First-time violations are charged as a summary offense. Any subsequent offenses are charged as a third-degree misdemeanor. Courts are not authorized to suspend sentences.

False Identification to Law Enforcement Authorities (§4914)

This offense involves providing a member of law enforcement with “false information about his or her identity.” Those who violate this law are charged with a third-degree misdemeanor.

Maximum Penalties

Level of Offense

Maximum Incarceration

Maximum Fine

Third-Degree Felony

Seven years


First-Degree Misdemeanor

Five years


Second-Degree Misdemeanor

Two years


Third-Degree Misdemeanor

One year


Summary Offense

90 days


City of Philadelphia ID Cards

All residents of Philadelphia that are 13 years of age or older may obtain a Philadelphia City ID. Each ID issued contains a unique identification number, name, address, gender, etc. The ID card may contain information relating to emergency contacts and any serious medical conditions. To be issued an ID, your identity and residency must be proven according to a four-point system. Valid documents include the following:

  • A passport issued by the U.S. or a foreign county
  • A birth certificate
  • U.S. Veteran ID card
  • SEPTA ID card
  • Student (high school or college) ID card
  • Inmate identification card
  • A current utility bill, bank statement, registration for a vehicle, and others.

Pennsylvania REAL ID Program

In 2005, federal lawmakers passed legislation allowing states to begin creating enhanced forms of personal identification. Beginning in October 2020, individuals will need to have a REAL ID-compliant form of identification to enter federal buildings, military facilities, and commercial flights. This program was created in response to recommendations from security agencies following the 9/11 attacks in New York.

These IDs use advanced technologies that will reduce the likelihood that they can be effectively altered or duplicated. These cards should be effective in preventing the use of fake IDs to purchase alcohol as well. The ID card contains an RFID chip that is capable of storing and retrieving key identity-related data.

Other criminal activities may be committed using fake forms of identification. These include crimes associated with identity theft, immigration fraud, and more.

ID Barcodes for Sellers of Alcohol

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board recently announced that all forms of state identification will contain barcodes. This applies to state identification cards and driver's licenses that are both compliant and not compliant with the REAL ID program. Businesses that are licensed to sell alcohol in Pennsylvania are encouraged to contact their suppliers of merchant card readers and scanners to obtain compatible equipment.

Over time, all those attempting to purchase alcohol will have to present an ID and the barcode will be scanned. This capability is another way to prevent individuals from using fake or altered IDs for these purchases.

Seasoned Criminal Defense Attorney in Philadelphia

Have you recently been arrested and charged with a criminal offense? Our Criminal Law Team are defense lawyers that have spent many years representing clients in criminal cases. You are encouraged to contact the office today for a complimentary case consultation at 888-535-3686.

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The LLF Law Firm Team has decades of experience successfully resolving clients' criminal charges in Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania counties. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you or a loved one, contact the LLF Law Firm today! Our Criminal Defense Team will go above and beyond the needs of any client, and will fight until the final bell rings.

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