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Alcohol Charges up During Game Days (Virginia)

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50. Alcohol Charges up During Game Days (Virginia)

Collegiate Times
September 10, 2007

The return of football season at Virginia Tech brings with it an increase in alcohol charges among students.

Between the Tech Police Department and the Blacksburg Police, there were 29 arrests for public intoxication and 12 arrests for underage possession of alcohol on Sept. 1, the day of the first home football game against East Carolina.

Lt. Kit Cummings of the Blacksburg Police said that although the number of arrests on Sept. 1 is high for a typical weekend, it's on par for what they expect on game days.

"We're actively on patrol during these events," Cummings said. "We try to do what we can to stop it, but also try to make the game safe for everyone."

"That's the biggest goal of alcohol-related law enforcement, more than the punitive aspect. We want to make sure people are safe with their actions."

Cummings said there are certain triggers of drunken behavior that draw an officer's attention.

"We're looking for someone being disorderly, loud or arguing with someone," Cummings said.

"We're also looking for people drinking from an open container of alcohol in a public place, which is illegal … but the most obvious thing we're looking for is obvious and debilitating intoxication."

On game days alcohol is permitted in designated parking areas to allow for tailgating, but all alcohol must be consumed in those lots before entering Lane Stadium. Failure to abide by these rules can lead to a public intoxication charge and a $100 fine.

The punishments for underage drinking are more severe. People under 21 caught consuming or possessing alcohol can be fined up to $2500, imprisoned, and/or required to serve up to 50 hours of community service. They may also have their Virginia driver's license suspended for up to a year. Additionally, judicial sanctions from the university follow.

Aside from the police, another group is actively patrolling football games. Representatives from the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control work as undercover agents searching for public safety concerns. Their duties range from checking IDs to issuing summons for underage possession of alcohol or public intoxication.

Beth Straeten, public relations specialist for ABC, said the main focus of these agents is to make sure the game is enjoyable for everyone.

"They want to make sure the area stays safe so that students and visitors can continue to enjoy football games throughout the next week, year and the next 30 years afterward," Straeten said.

Freshman Angel Wilkins, animal and poultry science major, said drinking at football games is not only dangerous but also gives Tech a bad name.

"It looks really bad on the school," Wilkins said. "And people should want to represent their school in a good way."

Wilkins said she was surprised by the number of arrests on Sept. 1 and had anticipated it to be much higher.

"I'm sure many more than that were drunk or carrying alcohol," Wilkins said. "They were just lucky enough not to get caught."

on Trail, an attendant at the Campus Alcohol Abuse Prevention Center, agreed.

"That's not surprising," Trail said, in response to the number of arrests. "Out of 60,000 people there, probably about 40,000 of them were drinking. The most important thing is to be responsible. And to know you don't need to drink to enjoy the game."

Lane Stadium also saw a high number of arrests on Thursday, Sept. 6, at Concert for Virginia Tech featuring Phil Vassar, Nas, John Mayer and Dave Matthews Band. Officers arrested 41 people for public intoxication, seven people for underage possession of alcohol and two people for possessing someone else's driver's license. Two of the people who were arrested for underage possession of alcohol were also arrested were also charged for public intoxication.


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