Party Smart: Stay On The Right Side of the Law

Playing Legal, Staying Legal

The following are a few of the criminal charges that can result from irresponsible or simply uninformed party behavior. Most of these offenses are misdemeanors and carry a maximum penalty of 180 days jail time and/or a fine of $1,000.

Public Intoxication

It is illegal to be intoxicated in a public place, if you are endangering your life or the life of another person, if you’re breaching the peace, or if you are harassing, annoying, or alarming another person. “Public place” includes, but is not limited to: sidewalks, streets, parking lots, common areas in apartment buildings and hotels, automobiles, and pretty much any place else that is accessible to the general public.

Illegal Possession of Alcohol

It is illegal in Indiana for a minor (anyone under the age of 21) to possess alcohol. If you’re not 21, just holding a container of beer may result in criminal charges. In addition, your driver’s license may be suspended for up to a year if you illegally possess alcohol while operating a vehicle, even if the container is closed.

Illegal Transportation of Alcohol

Minors who drive with alcohol on public roads, without having a parent or guardian present, can be charged with illegal transportation. This is true even if the container isn’t open, even if it’s locked in the trunk, and even if you have no intention of opening it.

Minors are most commonly at risk for illegal transportation offenses when they drive their of-age friends to the liquor store to buy alcohol and are caught by the police.

Consumption by a Minor

Underage partiers don’t have to be intoxicated to be charged with illegal consumption of alcohol. Any amount, even a drop, is illegal if you are under 21, and can result in criminal charges. This means that if you are breathalyzed and any alcohol is found in your system, even if you are well below the legal limit, you can be charged with illegal consumption. If you are underage and the police see you drinking alcohol, you can be charged. Also, your driver’s license may be suspended for up to a year if you consume any alcohol while operating a motor vehicle. If you sell or give alcohol to a minor (a friend, a date, a pledge), and that minor becomes seriously ill or injured (or dies), you have committed a felony - a very serious crime.

Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor

It is illegal to recklessly provide or furnish (give) alcohol to a minor. If you host a party and fail to make a serious inquiry into the age of people drinking, you may be liable.

Visiting or Maintaining a Common Nuisance

If any illegal drugs are being used at your party, even if you aren’t using them, you can still be charged with a crime called “Maintaining a Common Nuisance.” This is a felony, a more serious charge than a misdemeanor, and carries more severe penalties.

If you attend a party where drugs are being used (even if you aren’t using them), you can be charged with the crime of “Visiting a Common Nuisance,” a misdemeanor.

Public Nudity

Urinating in public can result in a criminal charge for public nudity, whether you opt to do so in an alley, parking lot, or public fountain. Penalties are harsher in parks and schoolyards.

Likewise, whether you’re doing a private act in public or showing off your body, you may be arrested for the more-serious charge of “public indecency.”

Furnishing and Possession of False Identification

It is a crime to possess a fake ID, whether you have made or purchased a perfect replica, altered an existing ID, or simply borrowed one from an of-age person bearing a slight resemblance to you.

If you try to use a fake ID, you may face criminal penalties and a one-year suspension of your driver’s license. It is also a crime to provide your ID to a minor so that the minor may attempt to buy alcohol.

Not A Crime, But Not A Good Time

In addition to the criminal liabilities outlined above, parties can bring trouble.

Noise Violations

The City of Bloomington prohibits excessive noise, meaning any noise likely to annoy or disturb someone outside of your immediate vicinity between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m.

Loud music, yelling and general party noise are often reported to the police in Bloomington, and party hosts face a $50 fine for violation of the noise ordinance. Fines increase up to $500 for repeat offenders.

Littering/Trash Violations

It is a violation of Bloomington ordinance to throw, place, or scatter garbage in your yard, as well as on sidewalks and streets. Provide trash cans for people attending your party to dispose of cups, plates and any other trash, and pick up after those who don’t use the cans provided.

If you leave trash lying around, even if it’s in your own yard, you can be fined $50 by the City.

Lease Violations

Your lease may have clauses which allow the landlord to evict you for certain criminal violations. These may include use and/or sale of illegal drugs, serving alcohol to a minor and consumption of alcohol by a minor.

IU Code of Student Rights, Responsibilities, and Conduct

Students at IU-Bloomington may be disciplined by the University for alleged violations of the Indiana University Code of Student Rights, Responsibilities, and Conduct.

Law enforcement will typically forward charges to IU, allowing the University to investigate and determine whether a Code violation has taken place and whether disciplinary measures should be pursued. This is true even if the incident occurred off campus and even if the student is eventually acquitted or has the charges dismissed.

Sanctions for Code violations range from a reprimand and warning to expulsion from the University, depending upon the severity of the offense and whether the student has any prior violations in his or her University record. Cases addressed through the campus judicial system are likely to result in a disciplinary record that can also cause future issues.

If The Police Come To Your Party

  • First and foremost, be polite. Being aggressive or surly with the police will only make matters worse.
  • Identify yourself as the host. If you are requested to do so, you must show some sort of identification.
  • Unless they have a good-faith belief that someone is in danger or that some other emergency exists, the police must have either a search warrant or your consent to enter your house.
  • If they knock on the door, go outside to speak to them. You do not have to invite them in/give your consent for them to enter.
  • If you are arrested, don’t resist or try to avoid the police. You can be charged with resisting arrest. Most importantly, DON’T SAY ANYTHING: You have the right to remain silent. You don’t have to answer any questions the police ask unless you have an attorney present, and anything that you say can and will be used against you.

Minimizing Your Risks

The following tips will help you minimize the risks of civil or criminal liability.

Things to do:

  • Be considerate of neighbors
  • Monitor how much people are drinking
  • Control the noise level, especially between 9:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m.
  • Be polite to the police
  • Use bathrooms, not bushes
  • Use trash containers, not the ground
  • Ensure those under 21 do not drink
  • Leave drinks behind when you leave a party
  • Know the law and IU policy: both prohibit sexual contact with someone who is impaired. Violating this is a felony that won’t go away.

Things not to do:

  • Don’t walk in the streets with open alcohol, or when visibly intoxicated
  • Don’t allow drunk people to drive
  • Don’t drive with alcohol in your car if you are under 21
  • Don’t be careless about sexual activity when you or the other person has been drinking

Potential Consequences

The consequences of the violations described on this page involve a wide range of penalties which depend on the severity of the crime. These penalties include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Fines and court costs
  • Probation
  • Community service
  • Driver’s license suspension or revocation
  • University Sanctions
  • Imprisonment
  • Criminal conviction