A student who cracks open a beer while tailgating in a public area in Columbus before Michigan plays Ohio State tomorrow could face a fine of up to a $1,000 and possibly six months in jail.
It’s a fate awaiting students who are unaware of the alcohol laws in Ohio, which are harsher than those in Michigan.
The consequences for violating the open container law in Michigan are not as severe as in Ohio. “If you’re over 21 and you’re drinking in public, the maximum penalty is 30 days in jail or a $100 fine or both,” said Dana Fair, assistant to the vice president for student affairs.
Fair said the Office of Student Affairs at Ohio State University contacted the University in an effort to make sure students are aware of the penalties for violating Ohio alcohol laws. Fair specifically cited the law that prohibits anyone — even people older than 21 — from having an open container of alcohol in public, which includes sidewalks and streets. He also said the penalties that accompany the law are relatively high.
“We want to make sure that visiting fans from Michigan don’t come in and be surprised about our open container policies,” said William Hall, vice president for student affairs at Ohio State.
Ohio State spokeswoman Elizabeth Conlisk said the open container law will be strictly enforced around Ohio Stadium, although this was not always the case. “Students were getting tickets across High Street, yet in and around the stadium the law was not being enforced,” she said, referring to the main road running through the Ohio State campus. Conlisk added that for the past two years police officers have been trying to fix that imbalance. Hall said violators of the open container law are typically visiting fans because they are not aware of the consequences.
Hall said this problem arose at the Ohio State football game against Penn State on Oct. 30, when some students were cited for violating the law. As a result, he said Ohio State decided to warn Michigan students about the alcohol laws before the game tomorrow.
“Penn State fans came and were not aware. They ought to be aware, and we ought to be helpful,” Conlisk said.
Hall emphasized the importance of making students aware of the changes in Ohio alcohol laws. “We want them to come in and have a good time,” he said.
Fair said the University has been spreading the word in a number of ways. Vice President for Student Affairs E. Royster Harper sent an e-mail to all student leaders and an e-mail was sent by the athletic department to all Michigan fans holding tickets for tomorrow’s game, informing them about Ohio’s laws. Posters were placed in the residence halls and the Greek community was informed. The University also notified the Alumni Association and posted information on the Division of Student Affairs website, www.umich.edu/~ovpsa.
A Buckeye bust
Open container violation in Ohio can lead to a $1,000 fine and six months in jail
In Michigan, the penalty for the same citation is a $100 fine and/or 30 days in jail.