How to party responsibly

By Lauren Thorbjornsen

Students thinking of busting out shot glasses and setting up kegs for a house party may want to think again. The stress of a house party does not only begin with inviting friends and end with cleaning up. A house party could result in serious fines and serious damage if proper precautions are not taken.

“People who host parties are their own worst enemies,” said Sergeant Scott Friedlein of the Champaign City Police Department. “They hold parties they can’t control.”

Out of control parties may seem like a good idea, but the negative consequences can far surpass just one night of fun.

Fines are the most common consequence of having a house or apartment party. Reasons for receiving fines range from noise violation tickets to adult responsibility citations.

“Adult responsibility citations are given when hosts of a party are 21 years or older and there are under 21 (people) drinking,” said Jeremy Grose, attorney for Student Legal Services.

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    Some hosts put up signs around their party to discourage underage drinking, such as “Must be 21 to Drink,” but Grose said the signs do not take responsibility off of the hosts.

    “Hosts are still obligated to monitor their guests,” Grose said. “A sign still makes hosts liable for underage drinkers, and in the city of Champaign, the host and the minor each get a ticket for $280. In Urbana, the ticket is $135.”

    The tickets can be given to residents for serving multiple minors as well.

    “In the city of Champaign, residents (hosts) can be charged $280 for each minor present at their party,” Friedlein said. “All residents present can be charged for each minor. Say there were 10 minors, then each resident could be charged $2,800 – $280 per minor.”

    Due to an increased number of adult responsibility tickets, Student Legal Service is running an advertisement at the end of this week in the Daily Illini to inform students that the “Must be 21 to Drink” sign has no meaning in the eyes of the law.

    “I saw the signs at other parties, so I figured it could help in the event the police showed up at my party,” said Jon Hansen, junior in communications, of an apartment party he threw earlier this semester.

    Fines are not only given in the case of minors. Fines can be given out for not having a permit if more than one keg is present at a party in Champaign, Friedlein said.

    “In Urbana, there are no keg permits,” said Karen Snyder of the Urbana City Police Department.

    Fines can also be given out for fighting and for charging partygoers for drinks or cups.

    “There was a house on Second and John (streets), called ‘The Palace,’ that charged for drinking,” Friedlein said. “The police raided the house and gave nearly $27,000 in fines.”

    Charging guests for alcohol is a violation because by selling a product, the house would need a liquor license, Friedlein said. Also, selling a product makes the house a public dwelling and, as a result, it could be raided like a bar, he said.

    In the event of a raid, partygoers are most likely to run, but that could result in a fine as well. Students can receive fines for running from the police that could result in a misdemeanor, Grose said.

    Fines can seem small compared to what can happen when parties get out of control.

    “Last year there was a fatal DUI accident,” Friedlein said. “If a minor came from your party and there was a DUI accident, the house party could be liable and that is a felony level violation.”

    Other tragedies have occurred due to out of control house parties, such as fights with locals in which guns were involved or when a street person was invited in to a party and drew a knife, Friedlein said.

    “The best precautions to take are to have a sober host and to register the party with the authorities,” Friedlein said. “By registering, you get a letter of guidance to help with your party. It also shows you were responsible, so if a problem were to arise, (the police) would have a point of contact.”

    Friedlein said that a lot of times when police arrive due to complaints, the first person they talk to is the most “obnoxious and drunk” partygoer who usually tries to obstruct their path. If there is a point of contact, the police can avoid this person and fix the problem with the host.

    “My goal is to help people survive their college experience,” Friedlein said.