Little identification needed for ‘freshman bars’Posted: March 5, 2009
A Friday evening for Heather Green usually involves picking out a cute outfit, gathering with her Kappa Delta sorority sisters and heading to some select bars in Downtown Athens to drink a few cocktails.
When Green first arrived in Athens, she was a bit nervous of the downtown atmosphere, but it was for only one reason. She’s 18 years old.
But one item enables her to have a fun night on the town any day of the week: her fake ID.
“It was really easy for me to get my fake ID,” said Green, a freshman University of Georgia student from Dillard, Ga. “My big sister in my sorority passed it down to me. I was nervous to use it at first but if you’re careful then it’s never going to be a problem.”
Green said she hasn’t had any trouble walking in the Athens bars she’s tried to get into. To play it safe, though, she said there’s a select few she and her friends visit that are sure to let them in.
“We usually head to the freshman bars, such as Bourbon Street for sure,” Green said. “We definitely go to Sideways, General [Beauregard’s], Arch Bar and Boar’s Head. Those are the places considered freshman bars.”
Green also mentioned the advantage of being an underage female in Athens, that many bars let girls in regardless of age – just as long as the fake ID looks real enough.
“If you have a legit ID and you’re a girl, it is probably fine,” she said.
Tray Alley, a bouncer at the Downtown Athens bar Allgood, said there are a lot of bars in Athens that cater to underage drinking. But Allgood is not one of them.
“We’re one of the stricter bars in Athens,” said Alley, a fifth-year Georgia student. “If the ID is expired, there’s no hologram or it simply says you’re too young, you’re not getting in.”
Alley, who was at the beginning of his shift, was studying for a midterm while working. But that didn’t stop him from asking two females to take their IDs out of their wallets and show some identification.
Alley said Allgood has a good reputation for turning away underage drinkers so he doesn’t see many fake IDs on most average nights he works. He said he only sees about one or two suspicious IDs during a regular shift, but that during football season in Athens, the number jumps to about six to 10.
“We had to take an online class on checking IDs,” Alley said. “I do my best to check IDs closely because if someone gets by me and gets caught by the cops for drinking underage that’s all on the owner. If the owner finds out a bouncer lets in an underage drinker then that bouncer is immediately fired.”
One bar that ran into some legal trouble with underage drinking was Flanagan’s, located on Clayton St. In December, 2005, an underage person working for the Athens-Clarke County police strolled into a side door to avoid the doorman. Flanagan’s was forced to shut down temporarily for a month as a result.
For a short time, Flanagan’s used hand stamps that bartenders had to check, and even flirted with the idea of using ID scanners to curb underage drinking.
Both ideas are not used now.
Flanagan’s bouncer Ryan Smith, who has worked at the bar for five months, said he was made aware of the police sting after becoming employed.
“When I was hired I was made sure to watch out for fake IDs because of the sting,” Smith said. “I see only about 10 fakes a night and it seems like there have been less underage drinkers coming to this bar.”
However, Smith added that sometimes a good fake ID can fool anybody.
“I do my best, especially since we’ve been hearing the cops have been doing more stings, so we try to keep our watch as tight as possible,” Smith said. “
Green, on the other hand, said she’s visited Flanagan’s and gotten into the bar without a problem.
“Flanagan’s isn’t a bar I normally go to but it’s one where you can get in fairly easy as long as you have a decent fake,” she said. “I’ve definitely done it.”
Green added there’s one bar she and her friends can walk into any time they want – Bourbon Street.
“The bouncers at bars such as Bourbon [Street] know that probably 95 percent of the IDs they check are fake and they don’t care, especially if you’re a girl,” Green said. “A friend of mine that’s white has used a black girl’s ID to get in and had no problem at all. The bouncer just laughed.”
For Green, she said she will continue to experience the Downtown Athens nightlife, as long as she’s careful and mindful that she is in fact breaking the law.
“I guess I try not to ever be belligerently intoxicated when walking Downtown,” Green said. “And I also go to pretty much the same bars every time I go out – ones that are known to be easy to get into and the ones that other people my age are going to be.”