Using a Fake ID in Texas: A Look at the Criminal Consequences

Fake ID in Texas

Go to any college town or destination in Texas, and there’s a high likelihood many students will have a fake ID tucked in their purse or pocket. In fact, it may be the one thing they never leave home without.

While a fake ID may be an underclassman’s most prized possession, it comes with big risks. Not only can using a fake ID in Texas land a student in trouble with the law, but it could possibly lead to school disciplinary action. Here’s a crash course on the law and the potential consequences of using a fake ID in Texas.

What are the Laws Regarding Fake IDs in Texas?

There are a number of ways college students obtain fake IDs in Texas. Some may borrow an ID from an older sibling or friend who bears a resemblance. Others may purchase a fake ID online. Some may attempt to forge or alter their birth date on a license or present a fake birth document to obtain a driver’s license or state ID card.  All of these scenarios would be illegal under Texas law and the offenses range from misdemeanors tickets to felonies.

Possession of a Fake Driver's LicenseClass A Misdemeanor
Misrepresentation of Age by MinorClass C Misdemeanor
Fictitious License or CertificateClass C Misdemeanor
Tampering with a Government RecordThird Degree Felony

Possession of a Fake Driver’s License in Texas

Texas Transportation Code 521.451 prohibits fake IDs in several ways, including lending your ID to another person, having more than one driver’s license, or providing false information when applying for a license or ID card. The statute states that a person may not:

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  1. Knowingly display or possess a driver’s license or certificate that is fictitious or has been altered;
  2. Lend his or her driver’s license or certificate to another individual, or knowingly let another person use the license or certificate;
  3. Display or represent as his or her own another person’s driver license or certificate;
  4. Possess more than one valid certificates or driver’s licenses; or
  5. Provide a false name, address, or counterfeit document, or knowingly provide a false statement, omit information, or commit fraud in a renewal, original application, or application for a duplicate driver’s license or certificate.

Punishment for Possession of a Fake Driver’s License in Texas

Violation of this statute is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine.

Misrepresentation of Age by a Minor

Under the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code 106.07, a minor commits an offense if he or she falsely states that he or she is 21 years of age or older and presents any document that indicates that he or she is 21 years of age or older to a person engaged in selling or serving alcoholic beverages. An example of this might be misrepresenting yourself as 21 to a doorman at a bar.

Punishment for Misrepresentation of Age by a Minor

This offense is a Class C Misdemeanor punishable by up to a $500 fine. Misrepresentation of age by a minor is the most common fake ID offense in Texas.

Fictitious License or Certificate

Under Texas Transportation Code 521.453, it’s illegal to possess a fictitious license or certificate. The statute states that a person commits the offense of possession of a fictitious license if they possess, with the intent to represent that they are 21 years of age or older, a “deceptively similar” driver license or ID certificate – unless the document displays the statement “Not a Government Document” printed in ¼ inch solid red capital letters diagonally on both sides.

Punishment for Fictitious License or Certificate

This offense is considered a Class C Misdemeanor, which carries a penalty of up to a $500 if convicted.

Tampering with a Government Record

Texas Penal Code 37.10 is the statute that most likely would apply to someone who altered a driver’s license or identification card. An individual commits the offense of tampering with a government record if he or she:

  1. knowingly makes a false entry in, or false alteration of, a governmental record;
  2. makes, presents, or uses any record, document, or thing with knowledge of its falsity and with intent that it be taken as a genuine governmental record;
  3. intentionally destroys, conceals, removes, or otherwise impairs the verity, legibility, or availability of a governmental record;
  4. possesses, sells, or offers to sell a governmental record or a blank governmental record form with intent that it be used unlawfully;
  5. makes, presents, or uses a governmental record with knowledge of its falsity;
  6. possesses, sells, or offers to sell a governmental record or a blank governmental record form with knowledge that it was obtained unlawfully.

Punishment for Tampering with a Government Record

This offense is considered a third degree felony, punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

Can the Bar or Restaurant where I Used my Fake ID in Texas Get in Trouble?

Absolutely. In fact, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission often conducts undercover operations where they knowing send minor-aged people into stores, bars and restaurants to purchase alcohol. If the sale is successful, the business and its employees could face administrative or criminal charges. For example, last summer the TABC announced that they would be conducting a series of back-to-school undercover operations as tens of thousands of college and university students head back to class.

How do Underage Students Get Caught Using a Fake ID?

Most of the time, an astute bouncer or bartender will notice the fake ID. In some cases – if the student is lucky – they will just take up the ID. The worst case scenario occurs when police are contacted and the student is ticketed or arrested.

Is There Any Way I Can Legally Drink before Age 21 in Texas?

Yes, with your parents. In Texas, minors can drink in the presence of their adult parent, guardian or spouse.

What Should I Do if I Get Arrested for a Fake ID?

If you are caught with a fake ID or manufacturing or selling counterfeit identification, call the law offices of Varghese Summersett as soon as possible. It’s imperative that our team gets to work immediately in an effort to prevent or defend a criminal prosecution. The ultimate goal would be to try and avoid a criminal conviction, which could go on your record and have far-reaching effects. Also, our attorneys will work to get in front of any school disciplinary hearings that could stem from the offense. Our consultations are confidential and you can call us even before you contact your parents.  Call 817-203-2220 today find out how we can help.

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Benson Varghese

Managing Partner at Varghese Summersett PLLC
Benson Varghese is the founder and Managing Partner of Varghese Summersett PLLC. He is a prolific writer and has authored hundreds of articles about criminal law in Texas and at the Federal level. His articles have been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Above the Law, and have been selected as Top Blogs by the State Bar of Texas. He was named the Young Lawyer of the Year in 2019 by the Tarrant County Bar Association. Benson led the firm to become one of the 500 fastest growing businesses in the United States by Inc 500 Magazine in 2018. In the same year, the firm was named the Best Law Firm in Fort Worth by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The lawyers at Varghese Summersett PLLC exclusively handle criminal defense matters.
Benson Varghese