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Student Legal Services Series 2: Alcohol Laws and Criminal Defense


Student Legal Services Series 2:

Alcohol Laws and Local Ordinances


Stephens & Brown, Athens Georgia’s premier DUI and criminal defense law firm, welcomes University of Georgia, University of North Georgia, Athens Technical College, and Piedmont College students back to Athens.

Continuing in our series of blogs intended to help new and returning students in Athens understand and navigate the legal system, today’s blog will focus on state laws and local ordinances, particularly those pertaining to the consumption of alcohol. If you missed last week’s blog on DUI laws and what to do if you’re stopped, you can access it here.

Remember, if you are charged with a crime or asked to meet with school administrators about alleged crimes, it is essential that you hire an attorney who can provide you with a powerful defense and protect your future. Kim Stephens defends students every day against false or inflated accusations, winning in court, and preventing incidents from impacting students’ education and lives beyond college. He is a nationally ranked defense attorney and has successfully litigated hundreds of cases.

Alcohol Laws and Local Ordinances:

  1. Athens has an open container ordinance, meaning it is illegal to consume alcoholic beverages outside in public spaces, even just outside of some bars and restaurants. The local police enforce the open container law year round, even on football game days on and off campus.
  2. Athens has a noise ordinance and excessive noise at any residence may result in police coming to your residence and attempting to question everyone who is there. If the police show up at your home because of a noise complaint, have someone who has not been drinking and/or is over 21 years of age meet the officers at the door and, above all else, be polite, cooperate and turn the noise down, i.e. lower the decibel level.
  3. Littering violates state law and local ordinances and makes the community an uglier place. Instead of dropping cans, bottles or other trash on the ground or throwing them out the car window, pick up any trash you see and put it in the closest recycle or trash bin. You will feel good about yourself and will avoid unnecessary attention from the police.
  4. If you drink alcohol and are under the age of twenty-one, you may be charged with Underage Possession of Alcohol, i.e. MIP, even if the police don’t perform any test to determine if you have been drinking. Local police departments in Athens changed their policy of arresting first time underage drinkers and branding them as criminals last year; but, police will arrest you and take you to jail if they can charge you with another crime, i.e. obstruction, public intoxication, possession of a fake ID, etc., at the same time. The penalties and sentences in MIP cases and these other types of misdemeanor cases can be unduly harsh and burdensome and can result in you having a criminal record. Please don’t trust your friend’s expert advice just because he or she already had an MIP in Athens or somewhere else. Every case is different. You should always consult with an attorney before you go to court.
  5. If you are stopped and/or cited for MIP, local police will likely ask for or search for fake IDs and, if they find one, they will arrest you and take you to jail. In some cases, Athens and UGA police officers have charged students with felony forgery charges instead of the more appropriate misdemeanor charge of possession of a false or fictitious ID. Possession of a fake ID, even as a misdemeanor charge, can result in serious sanctions including suspension of your driver’s license.
  6. If you urinate in public you are violating both state law and local ordinances. In addition to Public Urination, the police may also charge you with Public Indecency and will definitely check to see if you’ve been drinking. If you have consumed alcohol, they may then also charge you with an MIP and/or Public Drunkenness.
  7. If you are a UGA student, the Honor Code contains specific punishment for violations of the Code that involve alcohol or drugs. Second time violations involving alcohol, even a violation as minor as an RA seeing beer in a dorm room refrigerator, can and often does result in suspension from UGA for a full year.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 IF YOU HAVE BEEN CHARGED WITH A CRIME OR ARE FACING A STUDENT JUDICIARY HEARING, CALL KIM STEPHENS TODAY FOR PROFESSIONAL ADVICE AND A POWERFUL DEFENSE. 706.548.3933               s-cd s10-cd s-dui s10-dui cc-dui cc-cd readers_choice_logo_2012 rc13 Top100seal1[1]                          

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