Game Day: Keeping Out of Handcuffs

Game day can be a life-changing experience. More than 100,000 members of The Ohio State and Greater Columbus community converge on Ohio Stadium to cheer for the Buckeyes among family and friends.

Numerous law enforcement agencies are also on-hand to deal with any emergency or criminal behavior. Among them is the Ohio Investigative Unit, a plainclothes police officer division from the Ohio State Highway Patrol charged with enforcing Ohio’s alcohol laws. These agents primarily investigate bars and restaurants to ensure that liquor-permitted businesses are compliant with Ohio’s liquor laws; however, they will perform arrests for violations such as underage possession and intoxication, open container, and more. Because these officers do not wear typical police uniforms, it can be difficult to identify who is law enforcement and who is not.

Ohio’s open-container laws do not take the day off on game days. With all the house parties and tailgating events, it is easy to forget that the stadium and surrounding areas of campus are still public property and are subject to even greater scrutiny on game day. Violations of open container laws can result in a $150 fine, but more importantly, they create a public record that may need to be shared with future employers, schools, licensing agencies, and others. Possession by an underage person can result in six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. Beyond the legal ramifications, these incidents may lead to a referral to Student Conduct. Violations of the Code of Student Conduct may result in one or more sanctions, including educational opportunities to support your educational growth and development. Sanctions may also include a formal reprimand or disciplinary probation. For serious cases or repeated violations, sanctions could include suspension or dismissal.

Students who have visited one of the Community Entertainment Districts throughout Ohio might be confused regarding Ohio’s prohibition on open containers. In locations explicitly identified as Community Entertainment Districts, community members are allowed to purchase and possess open containers on the street and in public areas to foster business for area bars and restaurants. Students should take note:  Ohio Stadium and the surrounding campus and off-campus area are not a part of any community entertainment district, so these exemptions do not apply. To identify community entertainment districts in Ohio, please click here.

Party Smart, a program from The Office of Student Life, Student Wellness Center offers tips for Ohio State students to keep them safe and healthy, including practical steps to help students make safe decisions regarding party practices.  Party Smart also offers an overview of various laws and policies applicable to Ohio State Students. To visit Party Smart, please click here. For more information on the Ohio Stadium Alcohol Policy, please click here.

Students with questions about Ohio laws, or who have been charged with a crime, should contact Student Legal Services, the lawyers for Ohio State students.