Students, residents should have better access to Champaign, Urbana legal codes

Can you still get a DUI if you’re under the 0.08 limit? What happens if you get caught with a small amount of marijuana on campus? What if you’re underage and not drinking at a bar, but within arm’s reach of a drink? Is it legal to sell cups at a house party?

Except for the 90-minute ACE IT program students take as freshmen, little information is readily available about drinking and drugs in Champaign-Urbana — or what an arrest or conviction could mean for your future. University Student Legal Services may provide some information, but it’s usually not enough.

Ignorance is no excuse for breaking the law, but it should be easier for residents to get information about what exactly is illegal. Differences between Urbana and Champaign legal codes should also be more readily available.

The best way to spread this information would be to clearly display it on the Champaign, Urbana and University police departments websites.

Perhaps a 20-year-old wants to go to a bar and make sure he doesn’t break the law. Or maybe, someone wants to throw a party and needs to look up local noise ordinances. It can take almost an hour trying to dig through the proper city codes, forum posts about local laws and old Daily Illini articles to figure out the exact law.

Because the information can be difficult to find, students may be more prone to looking up and understanding laws they might break after they have done it. Rather, more readily available information would lead students to follow laws and procedures if they and their consequences were expressly enumerated in an easy-to-search-and-use information base.

The University could also explain more clearly what a conviction could mean to your future enrollment. For example, according to the University Office of Student Financial Aid, a drug-related conviction could result in the loss of federal financial aid.

The Division of Public Safety states: “Students who illegally possess, use, distribute, sell, or manufacture drugs are subject to University disciplinary action and may be dismissed from the University. The standard disciplinary response to students who are found to be distributing illegal drugs is dismissal for not less than two years.”

But the University and local police departments have not been alone in this failure to make the information available to students. The Daily Illini could help to inform readers about the consequences of legal violations, important to them and their future choices.

For the record: You can get a DUI under the 0.08 limit if your driving is impaired. Possession of a small amount of marijuana will result in a fine in Urbana, and it could affect your financial aid. If you’re underage and within arm’s reach of a drink, you could get a citation. And selling cups at a house party is illegal.