By Tony Wittkowski | Senior Reporter | Central Michigan Life
MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. — Fake IDs have become a norm among underage college students, but bars in Mount Pleasant have begun to master the art of confiscation.
Lois Breidenstein, owner and operator of The Bird Bar and Grill in downtown Mount Pleasant, has been using an effective method for confiscating fakes for more than five years.
“If we find a fake license, we confiscate it, mark an X on it with a black marker and don’t give it back,” Breidenstein said.
The pile of confiscated IDs at The Bird is about three and a half inches thick. A majority of the confiscations occur between Thursday and Saturday evenings.
“We always have to do a good job of checking first semester so (students) know not to try (using fakes) at our place,” Breidenstein said.
The Bird is one of many bars around the state registered with the Michigan State Police on the ID Checking Guide, which provides pictures and descriptions of every state’s ID as well as all provinces in Canada. The guide costs $26 per year.
For every fake an employee discovers at the door or counter, they receive a $5 stipend.
Breidenstein said students usually try to convince employees there has been a mistake when they’re caught with a fake.
“We usually ask if they want to call the police,” Breidenstein said. “The police are always really good about coming out.”
Protocol around Mount Pleasant
At The Cabin, it’s the responsibility of the people working the door to spot a fake or borrowed ID. All employees take a two-hour class focusing on how to spot fakes.
“We had to get the training the state makes all the employees take. When I do find (fake IDs), I bring them up to the bar,” said Josh Lee, a Troy senior and doorman at The Cabin. “They get rid of them and don’t give them back.”
Freddie’s Tavern is also strict on fake IDs, toting a zero-tolerance policy when they are found.
Mount Pleasant senior and Freddie’s employee Dani Phillips does not notice a lot of fakes anymore due to their strict policy.
“I’m a townie, so I recognize some of the (underage) students,” Phillips said. “If we spot a fake, we either throw it away or turn it in to the police.”
Back at The Bird, the stack of plastic faces continues to pile up.
Ben Breidenstein, Lois’ son and manager at The Bird, said there have been more stories than he could remember.
“The worst card I have ever seen was a Russian ID,” he said. “The card looked like a Chippewa ID and she used an accent, which she stopped using halfway through the night.”
But not all are fake.
In fact, more than half the IDs that are collected are not fakes, but IDs that were borrowed from someone else.
“Whenever we take a borrowed ID, the person who lent the ID to the other person will come in the next day asking for it, but we don’t give it back,” Lois said.
Finding a fake
Some of the key indicators when spotting a fake are the height and eye color, said DJ Blizzard, one of the managers at The Bird.
“The first thing I look for is the general outline of the face of the nose,” Blizzard said. “Then I always look at the color of the eyes, the height and the jaw line.”
Blizzard, who has confiscated more than 500 fake IDs in 10 years, said it’s harder to catch girls because their hair color can change and it can be insensitive to ask about their weight.
“A lot of people come up and try to use (fakes) by just not taking it out of their wallet,” he said. “That’s an early sign, and then I ask them their zodiac sign to see if they know.”
Despite the extra efforts, Lois realizes that no one is perfect.
“We know some slip through,” she said. “But at least we can make it harder for whoever tries it.”
(Author’s Note: The article was originally published on Aug. 16, 2012)