Avoid the Party Patrol Killing Your Buzz

Hirsh Jain is the Chief of Staff of the ASUC student advocate’s office. Karen Warren is the interim associate dean of students. Send comments to [email protected]

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Parties are a big part of college life. They are fun ways to forget about the stress of school, socialize with your friends and simply enjoy yourself. Unfortunately though, students who end up hosting parties often end up with the short end of the stick when the police get involved. The ASUC Student Advocate’s Office and [email protected] Coordinator Karen Hughes have partnered to clarify the expectations police have of party hosts and potential consequences of violating city ordinances.

The Berkeley Police Department and the UC Police Department collaborate during weekends to conduct the Joint Berkeley Party Patrol. When the patrol receives complaints of or happens upon a party that is deemed to be a disturbance, they have the option of issuing a Second Response Offense to the party’s host, as opposed to a simple verbal warning. Parties are considered disturbances when they involve 10 or more people and feature excessive noise, public drunkenness, obstruction of traffic, fights, or unlawful behavior.

When the police issue an Second Response Offense, the host is warned that he or she can’t receive a citation for similar behavior with a 120-day period. If they happen to do so within that time frame, they will face significant and progressively increasing fines: $750 for the first offense after the initial Second Response Offense, $1500 for the second, $2500 for the third, with greater escalations for future violations. Each additional violation incurred automatically resets the 120-day period during which the host cannot receive an additional Second Response Offense.

Second Response Offenses are one of the police’s newly revived enforcement tools; whereas no Second Response Offenses were issued during the period of August 16 to October 6 of last year, more than 50 have been issued this year.

In addition to the hosts, future tenants of the house or apartment where the party is held often end up paying the price. Though Second Response Offenses are affiliated with the hosts themselves, they are associated with the property as well, meaning that new tenants may be unaware that their recently rented apartment still has time remaining on an Second Response Offense violation. If a police officer cites you for a repeat Second Response Offense violation when a prior resident incurred the initial one, it is important that you explain the situation to the officer to avoid paying a large fine for the previous tenant’s mistake.

In addition to being cautious about hosting parties at their residence that could potentially land them in trouble with the police, students should be aware that Berkeley recently passed a Social Host Ordinance that holds party hosts accountable for serving alcohol to minors on their property. Violation of this ordinance is punishable on the first offense with a fine of $250, with steadily increasing fines for future violations.

The increased efforts by the BPD and UCPD to curb underage drinking and reduce the alcohol-related disturbances in the city has been funded by the Alcoholic Beverage Control Grant. The grant allocates a substantial amount of money for the police to spend on enforcing alcohol related crimes. The increased enforcement means that students should take extra precautions to avoid violating ordinances.

We hope that this article has clarified the risks associated with hosting party-related disturbances and serving alcohol to minors. Any additional information that you may need can be obtained from the Berkeley Police, UCPD and the ASUC Student Advocate’s Office. Party safe!


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