HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) Police say they are seeing an increasing number of high-quality fake identification cards, potentially allowing minors to get their hands on alcohol.
Adding to the problem, Surfside Beach Police Chief Mike Frederick says spring break in the Grand Strand almost always brings with it a rise in cases involving minors trying to get their hands on alcohol.
"Spring break is really conducive. You've got unsupervised kids, young folks and access to alcohol, and they're away from home," Frederick said. "It's kind of a perfect storm of opportunity for bad alcohol judgment."
American Liquor store owner Scott Lauer says he does everything he can to keep alcohol out of minors' hands, but some fake IDs look so real he may not be able to tell the difference.
"The technology is advancing faster than we can keep up with it," Lauer said. "I don't have a scanner; I'm not law enforcement or anything."
Frederick said some kids are turning to the Internet to buy fake IDs to buy liquor, and some of the cards are good enough to fool store clerks and police alike.
"Technology is not really our friend in terms of the fake ID business," Frederick said. "Folks in restaurants and bars are really up against it; they've got essentially ten seconds to look to match it up to the individuals."
Frederick said many fake ID companies post a disclaimer saying the purchaser is responsible for their actions after purchasing the card, but emphasized the fake cards are still illegal.
"They are not by any stretch of the imagination legal," Frederick said. "You can't just throw a disclaimer on your web site and convince the solicitor's office that you're okay."
Lauer said he plans to keep his eyes open for fake IDs, but knows there is always the chance a realistic fake could slip by unnoticed.
"If the weights right and all the info's right and the picture looks right then there's not really much else I can do," Lauer said. "I've done my job."
Frederick said it is difficult to police fake ID companies because many of them are based outside the United States.
Anyone convicted of using a fake ID in South Carolina loses their driver's license and driving privileges for 90 days, in addition to possible fines and jail time.
Myrtle Beach Police cited 169 cases last year involving minors with alcohol.