Crime Prevention: Alcohol Crimes
“About four out of five college students drink alcohol,” according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. In excess, the combination of alcohol and youth can — and often does — lead to serious crimes. Responsible consumption is the best way to prevent violations of alcohol laws.A few of the most common crimes related to alcohol include:
- Driving under the influence (under 21)
- Driving while intoxicated (over 21)
- Underage driving under the influence
- Underage drinking
- Public intoxication
- Using an invalid ID to purchase alcohol
Underage drinking applies to anyone under the age of 21 who consumes or possesses alcohol. Since nearly 4,000 students at UALR are under that threshold, it is the to which students are most susceptible.
Getting fake IDs is one way students attempt to evade the law. However, using an altered ID to purchase alcohol can result in a class-B misdemeanor. The punishment includes as many as 90 days of jail time and loss of license for a year.
Jennifer Sibley, a DPS crime prevention officer, warned against public intoxication which occurs when a person is openly drunk and appears to be a danger to himself or herself or others.
“So, if an officer sees you staggering, falling down, walking out in the street, we’re going to stop you.”
Sibley also said one of the most serious alcohol offenses is drinking while driving.
“When you get your driver’s license, you agree to let every officer in the state of Arkansas to check you and do a blood alcohol check,” Sibley said. “If you refuse, your license will be taken away and you will receive a temporary 30 day driver’s license. Refusal to submit is against the law in the state of Arkansas. You can refuse but you are breaking another law. You’re going to have to work to get it back.”
Sometimes a person does not even have to be intoxicated for police to suspect the individual is under the influence. Texting and driving, much like drinking and driving, is a felony offense that can lead to more serious crimes like negligent homicide.
“You’re going to make the same mistakes that you make when you’re drinking and driving,” Sibley said. “So, an officer’s not going to know until he actually stops you. You might get stopped for DUI or DWI while you’re texting.”
Fortunately, though, the number of alcohol crimes at UALR is low. Only one arrest for alcohol was made in 2012, according to DPS crime statistics.
In the past, officers would make traffic stops on Asher and University, but now the main focus is on campus – a decision made by new DPS chief Edward Smith.
“Those stats reflected on UALR because it was our police officers. Now our police officers are staying inside our campus. Our stats are dropping drastically for drug and alcohol. That isn’t to say that it doesn’t happen, but its fewer and far between.”
Regardless of these measures, Sibley stated that she knows alcohol is an ever-present concern. She made the following recommendations to those who are of drinking age:
- Know when you’ve had enough
- Have two sober people in the car, including the driver
- Designate drivers should not drink
- Don’t drink when angry or depressed
“I think it’s very naive for anyone to think that their kids are going to go to college and never touch alcohol,” Sibley said. “You’re on your own for the first time; so prove that you can handle it. Act like an adult.”