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Monday, August 15, 2022

Before you booze, make sure you know the rules

Peeing, driving or walking could leave you on the wrong side of the law if there's alcohol involved.

Public urination, driving under the influence, underage alcohol consumption and open container violations are the most common alcohol-related offenses committed by incoming freshmen, said UPD Capt. Jeff Holcomb.

Under City Ordinance Section 4-4(b)(1), it is unlawful to possess any alcoholic beverage in any open container on a public street, sidewalk or parking lot.

While underage alcohol consumption, public urination and open containers violations are punishable by civil citations, getting caught driving under the influence could earn a student a long night in the slammer.

Along with the initial arrest, DUIs can also carry heavy penalties and fines for those involved.

Holcomb said public urination is another common occurrence because students leave neighboring bars and clubs and have nowhere to use the bathroom.

"They think, ‘I'll just go outside,'" he said. "But that's breaking the law."

Many students aren't necessarily ignorant of alcohol laws and have heard about them through word of mouth, but that doesn't keep students from getting into trouble each semester.

"They know the law, because they'll see us and try to pull the good old drop-and-go," Holcomb said. "But it doesn't really work."

Along with UPD efforts to eliminate alcohol offenses on campus, the Gainesville Police Department has implemented the Party Patrol, a special task force designed to ensure that parties within the city remain under control.

With the patrol, officers go around to popular student areas on the weekend to look for unlawful alcohol possession and consumption.

Holcomb said all an officer needs is probable cause to lead to an arrest or citation, and a student can be asked to provide identification to verify his or her age.

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Though alcohol offenses are considered unlawful, under UF's Emergency Room Policy, underage students believed to be suffering from alcohol poisoning can receive medical attention at a hospital without being prosecuted by the police.


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