Florida law makes it a third-degree felony punishable by up to 5 years in state prison to knowingly be in possession of a forged or stolen driver’s license.
However, it is only a second-degree misdemeanor to be in possession of a fraudulent driver’s license where the date of birth has been altered.
As Labor Day Weekend rolls around, police agencies throughout Miami-Dade and Broward will be out looking for underage people trying to get into bars with fake ID’s.
The legislature drew a distinction between a “forged or stolen driver’s license” and one where the birthdate is merely altered. It is obviously more egregious to use somebody else’s ID than it is to alter one’s birthday so they can consume alcohol.
The problem with possession of a stolen driver’s license is that the legislature is concerned about identity theft, which is why the crime is a felony.
When you are out this Labor Day Weekend in South Florida, keep in mind that many bars and clubs will hire off-duty police officers to handle security. These officers may be the ones checking your ID’s before you enter.
If an ID is determined to be fake, you will be placed under arrested if charged with the felony, or possibly issued a promise to appear (PTA) if the birthdate is altered.
The difference between the misdemeanor or felony really depends on the photo of the ID. If it’s your photo, the charge is more appropriately a misdemeanor. If the photo is of somebody else than that is evidence that you are using somebody else’s driver’s license and will consequently be charged with a felony.
Eric Matheny is a criminal defense attorney representing clients charged with possessing false driver’s licenses in Miami-Dade and Broward County.