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Alcohol and Partying Laws

 

PLEASE NOTE: The information contained in this webpage has been prepared for educational purposes only. Communication of information through this webpage does not create or constitute an attorney-client relationship, is not intended to solicit clients or to provide legal services as to any particular matter, and is not intended to convey or constitute legal advice or provide a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a qualified attorney. It is important for you to consult with an attorney regarding your rights and responsibilities in a particular situation.

 


 

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Underage Alcohol Consumption
Underage alcohol consumption is taken seriously in Minnesota. One should refrain from drinking underage, as well as refrain from providing alcohol to minors in any fashion.

 

  • Consumption: It is unlawful for anyone under age 21 to consume alcohol outside of his/her parents’ or guardians' home.
  • Fake ID: It is unlawful to give a fictitious name or fake ID to a police officer who is acting within his/her duties. It is also unlawful to present a fake ID to purchase alcohol.
  • Purchasing: It is unlawful for someone under the age of 21 to buy or attempt to buy any alcoholic beverage.
  • Possession: It is unlawful for a person under 21 to possess an alcoholic beverage with intent to consume it outside his/her parents’ or guardian’s home.
  • Furnishing alcohol to persons under the age of 21: Anyone who buys or furnishes alcohol for a person under age 21 is subject to gross misdemeanor charges and a fine of up to $3,000 and/or one year in jail.

 


 

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Partying and Social Host Policy
If you plan on hosting a party, make sure you have control over the alcohol on your premises. Take measures to ensure that you are allowed to host parties and that you follow city ordinances.

 

Does your lease prohibit parties? If so, any gathering could result in adverse action by your landlord including eviction. Owner/managers of rental property are under increasing pressure from city officials, police, and neighborhood organizations to control their tenants’ conduct. A number of state and local organizations are concerned about parties, underage drinking, and related problems. A good rule of thumb for renters, particularly in areas around campus, is to proceed with extreme caution if you intend to host or attend a party. You will most likely fall under close scrutiny by neighbors and police. When the police receive a complaint and make a visit to rental property, the landlord is usually notified.

 

Noisy assembly: Ordinances in Minneapolis and St. Paul prohibit a person from participating in, visiting, permitting, or remaining at a noisy assembly. A noisy assembly is a gathering of more than one person in a residential area that could cause significant annoyance to the people around them. There could be a violation whether you entertain two friends or fifty; whether or not there is alcohol involved, and whether or not you are the host. A noisy assembly violation is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1000 and 90 days in jail.

 

Disorderly conduct: This is commonly defined as engaging in conduct that is likely to alarm, anger, or disturb others, provoke an assault, or disturb the peace. It includes fighting or using offensive language. Violation of this state statute is a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $1000 and / or 90 days in jail. NOTE: This law is broadly interpreted; police will often charge individuals who they believe are being “uncooperative” with disorderly conduct.

 

Social host liability: A civil lawsuit may be brought against anyone who is 21 or older who furnished, sold, gave, or purchased alcohol for a person under age 21 whose consumption of alcohol resulted in injury or harm to an innocent third person.

 

Party Tips
  • Before the party:
    • Plan ahead.
    • Try to limit the number of potential guests.
    • Do not make parties open to un-invited guests.
    • Be considerate of neighbors; inform them of the party, and have them contact you first about any problems.
  • During the party:
    • Make yourself available to answer the phone or respond to neighbors’ concerns.
    • From time to time check the noise level from outside to see if it could be bothering others.
    • Keep the party inside.
    • Control parking; do not let your guests park in the yard or block driveways.
    • Be a sober host.
    • Set the volume level of music so as not to disturb neighbors.
  • What to serve:
    • Have alternative beverages to alcohol, and label your beverages.
    • Serve alcohol in closed containers to limit the possibility of someone slipping a drug into the container.
    • Avoid glass bottles to minimize injuries from broken glass.
    • Stop serving alcohol at least one hour prior to the expected end of the party.
    • Accept each person’s decision to decline alcohol.
    • Do not promote overindulgence with drinking games.
    • Take steps to limit consumption, such as designating a responsible person as bartender.
  • Be responsible:
    • Do not allow drinking to become the primary focus of the party.
    • Make sure only those of legal age are drinking alcoholic beverages.
    • Have designated drivers available.
    • Stop friends from driving under the influence of any controlled substance.
  • After the party:
    • Do not allow anyone to leave with an open container of alcohol.
    • Do not allow anyone to go to the bathroom outside.
    • Clean up any litter as soon as possible.
    • Call your neighbors to thank them for their cooperation.
  • If police arrive at the door:
    • Cooperate and take them seriously.
    • Answer all questions truthfully.
    • You have the right to refuse them entry unless they have a search warrant.
    • Be aware that most police officers will enter forcibly if given provocation or reason to believe unlawful activity is occurring.
    • If you are ticketed or arrested, do not argue or resist. Try to consult with an attorney as soon as possible.
  • The Party Goer:
    • Eat before you go.
    • Make arrangements for safe transportation to and from the party.
    • Have a designated driver.
    • Set a limit on how many drinks you are going to have and pace yourself.
    • Don’t leave your drink unattended.
    • Don’t make alcohol the primary focus of the party; accept other’s’ rights not to drink.
    • Avoid drinking games.
    • Drink water to counteract dehydration.
    • Don’t leave your intoxicated friends alone.
    • If you drink don’t drive, be the passenger.

 


 

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Drunk Driving & DWI Laws
Drunk driving is taken even more seriously than underage drinking and social host violations. Think more than twice before driving drunk.

 

Being stopped: A police officer may stop you if he/she has reasonable grounds. Reasonable grounds may include violation of any traffic law, a mechanical defect in your vehicle, or questionable driving conduct. If, after the stop, the officer believes you have been drinking or are under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance (e.g., smells alcohol or drugs) or if you are unable to perform various sobriety tests or fail a preliminary breath test, the officer will arrest you for driving under the influence.

 

The arrest: If you are arrested for DWI, you will be taken to the station for testing. Prior to testing, the police officer must inform you of your rights and grant you the opportunity to speak with a lawyer. The officer will ask you to submit to a chemical test to determine the amount of alcohol that is in your system. Minnesota law requires that you submit to the test. Test refusal is a separate crime, and your privileges to drive will be revoked for one year if you refuse to take the chemical test. Refusing to take the test may be a misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor, or felony, depending upon whether you have any prior DWI incidents. Generally, arrestees are released in a few hours after either posting a cash bond or signing a promise to appear on the court date. In some instances, arrestees may be kept in custody or taken to a detox center.

 

If you are a first-time offender and the results of your test are .08 percent or greater, your privilege to drive will be immediately revoked for a period of 30 to 90 days. If the test results are between .05 and .08, you may still be charged with DWI if the police believe it has impaired your driving. If the results of your test are in excess of .20 percent or you have prior alcohol-related driving offenses, you will be charged with a more serious crime.

 

If you are underage, there is zero tolerance:If you are under the age of 21, you cannot consume any alcohol and drive (zero tolerance). A violation will result in a criminal charge and the loss of your driving privileges for 30 days on a first offense and 180 days for a multiple offender.

 

Criminal procedure: If you are ticketed for DWI, you will be given a time and date at which to appear in court. This is a serious offense, and you should request a lawyer. This initial appearance is called an arraignment. At the arraignment, you will be advised of the charge against you and asked to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty.

 

If you enter a guilty plea at arraignment, your case will be handled on that day. If you enter a not guilty plea, your matter will be go to a pretrial conference. The pretrial conference is a time when your lawyer and the city attorney will meet to discuss the case and see if a possible plea bargain can be arranged. The pretrial conference is generally held within a few weeks of the arraignment. It also is conducted in the courthouse of the county in which you have been arrested. If the case is not settled through plea bargaining, the matter goes to trial.

 

Penalties and sentencing:If you plead or are found guilty of DWI or a lesser offense, you are guilty of a misdemeanor. The maximum sentence for a misdemeanor is up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine or both. If you have had more than one DWI in the past ten years or had a blood alcohol test reading of point .20 or greater, you may be charged with a gross misdemeanor, which carries a maximum penalty of up to one year in jail and fine of up to $3,000. If you are stopped and refuse a blood alcohol test you may be charged with a gross misdemeanor. The amount of jail time and fine is left to the discretion of the court. Many judges will impose a form of community service together with a fine for a first offense. You may be able to perform community service to work off part or all of your fine or in lieu of jail time.

 

Alcohol Assessments: If you plead guilty or are found guilty of a DWI or alcohol-related offense, Minnesota law requires that you go through a PSI (pre-sentence investigation). This assessment is performed by an individual within the Department of Probation. They will interview you and determine whether or not you have an alcohol problem. The probation officer will then make recommendations to the judge regarding further treatment, educational programming, and sentencing. The court will require you to pay a substantial fee for the PSI.

 

Expect problems with your insurance: If you are convicted of a DWI, your car insurance rates will increase substantially. The conviction will affect your rates for many years to come. In addition to higher rates, there is a strong possibility that your insurance will be canceled altogether, and you will be required to obtain risk insurance from another agency or through the state.

 

Contact us for help: DWIs are serious charges with serious ramifications and consequences. If you are charged with a DWI, you should contact University Student Legal Service. If you are not eligible to use University Student Legal Service, you should strongly consider hiring a private, attorney or seeing if you are eligible for a court appointed lawyer or public defender.

 

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