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Changes to Arkansas law leads to more liquor arrests and violations at A-State

A change in Arkansas law is what has led to a drastic increase in the number of alcohol arrests and violations at Arkansas State University.  Last week, the University’s Police Department released Crime Statistics, which showed arrests for liquor law violations spiked from no arrests in 2011 to 24 arrests in 2013.  Those students who were referred to the Student Conduct Office for liquor violations were also up, from 25 in 2011 to 101 referrals last year.  Administrative Lieutenant for the Arkansas State University Police Department Jarrod Long says the number do not mean there is more alcohol on the campus now than previously.  He says a change in the law has made it easier for police to arrest minors for alcohol violations.

“Prior to the change, in order to make an arrest for minor in possession of alcohol, an individual had to actually be physically in possession of a can or a bottle, or they had to have that in their immediate possession.  When the law changed, they made it where if it is in their body and you can smell their odor of an alcoholic beverage that now constitutes a minor in possession.  Those numbers increased because we were in contact with people who had alcohol in their system, even though they may have not had any alcohol on them.”

He says an additional spike in the numbers were due to data that was also provided by the Jonesboro Police Department, as some officers from the Jonesboro Police have assisted the University Police in some cases. 

“The numbers were increased this year due to some extra data that added to it that had not been added in previous years.  Those statistics go to the Department of Higher Education.  Those are not the same statistics that go to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s crime stats.  We are required by law to request incident reports from other agencies and this was the first year the Jonesboro Police Department responded to it.  Another reason for the numbers is that also includes the number of police reports the Jonesboro Police Department dealt with in areas on the very edge of campus and situations where they may have been on campus too.  I don’t know if there is really an increase in the amount of alcohol, it was just an increase in the reporting of it.”

Long says Arkansas State University spends a lot of time in educating students about the dangers of alcohol.  He gives the process of what happens to students who have violated the University’s liquor laws.

“Once we contact an individual and we do our arrest report that also goes to the Student Conduct Office on campus.  They try to help further the education and help the student understand about alcohol dangers through counseling, alcohol courses, and other things that are offered through the school.  We also teach programs throughout the year to various classes.  One of them is called Fatal Vision.  We have some goggles that simulate what their vision would be if they were under the influence of alcohol.  We have students wear those and sometimes we set up a path wear the students wear the goggles and try to drive a golf cart through the path.  We try to do things like that to put the awareness out there.”

Lt. Long states that students are not contacted by police unless the student causes a disruption that police may investigate.  Arkansas State University has a strict policy against the use and sale of alcohol on campus.  See the full report here.

Here is the new Minor in Possession Law:

Arkansas Code of 1987 Annotated Official Edition
© 1987-2014 by the State of Arkansas
All rights reserved.

*** Legislation is current through the 2014 Fiscal Session and updates ***
*** received from the Arkansas Code Revision Commission through ***
*** July 2, 2014. ***

Title 3  Alcoholic Beverages  
Chapter 3  Prohibited Practices  
Subchapter 2  -- Particular Practices Prohibited

A.C.A. § 3-3-203  (2014)

3-3-203.  Purchase or possession by minor.

  (a)  (1) It is unlawful for any person under twenty-one (21) years of age to purchase or have in his or her possession any intoxicating liquor, wine, or beer.

   (2) For the purposes of this section, intoxicating liquor, wine, or beer in the body of a person under twenty-one (21) years of age is deemed to be in his or her possession.

(b) It shall also be unlawful for an adult to purchase on behalf of a person under twenty-one (21) years of age any intoxicating liquor, wine, or beer.

(c) A person eighteen (18) years of age or older violating this section is guilty of a violation and upon conviction shall be subject to a fine of not less than one hundred dollars ($100) nor more than five hundred dollars ($500).

(d) In addition to the penalties provided in this section, the trial judge or magistrate may impose the following penalty or penalties or any combination thereof:

   (1) Require a person eighteen (18) years of age or older but under twenty-one (21) years of age to write themes or essays on intoxicating liquors, wine, or beer; and

   (2) Place a person eighteen (18) years of age or older but under twenty-one (21) years of age under probationary conditions as determined by the court in its reasonable discretion designed as a reasonable and suitable preventive and educational safeguard to prevent future violations of this section by the person.

(e)  (1) In addition to the fine authorized by subsection (c) of this section, at the time of arrest of a person eighteen (18) years of age or older for violation of the provisions of subsection (a) of this section, the arrested person shall immediately surrender his or her license, permit, or other evidence of driving privilege to the arresting law enforcement officer as provided in § 5-65-402.

   (2)  (A) The Office of Driver Services or its designated official shall suspend or revoke the driving privilege of the arrested person or shall suspend any nonresident driving privilege of the arrested person, as provided in § 5-65-402.

      (B) The period of suspension or revocation shall be based on the offense that caused the surrender of the arrested person's license, permit, or other evidence of driving privilege as described in subdivision (e)(1) of this section and the number of any previous offenses as follows:

         (i) Suspension for sixty (60) days for a first offense under subsection (a) of this section;

         (ii) Suspension for one hundred twenty (120) days for a second offense under subsection (a) of this section; and

         (iii) Suspension for one (1) year for a third or subsequent offense under subsection (a) of this section.

   (3) In order to determine the number of previous offenses to consider when suspending or revoking the arrested person's driving privileges, the office shall consider as a previous offense any conviction under subsection (a) of this section which occurred either prior to or after August 12, 2005.

(f) A person less than eighteen (18) years of age who violates this section is subject to the Arkansas Juvenile Code of 1989, § 9-27-301 et seq.

HISTORY: Acts 1967, No. 44, § 1; 1979, No. 61, § 1; A.S.A. 1947, § 48-903.1; Acts 1997, No. 1210, § 1; 2005, No. 1535, § 1; 2005, No. 1994, § 28; 2009, No. 956, § 1; 2011, No. 1152, § 1; 2013, No. 1123, § 1.