Police issued 328 notices for offenses at Unofficial

CHAMPAIGN – A look at the unofficial numbers of scofflaws for Unofficial St. Patrick's Day suggests that many University of Illinois students apparently don't want to let go of the 15-year tradition of getting plowed on a school day.

As of 3 a.m. Saturday, police reported that there had been 328 notices to appear in court issued during the bacchanal that has become – for police, parents and university administrators – the most dreaded annual event on the UI campus.

Police were unable to say if a 21-year-old University of Illinois student clinging to life at an Urbana hospital late Saturday may have taken part in the festivities before crossing a busy street against a traffic signal and being struck by two vehicles.

"We went in with a mind-set to do what we could to keep these kids safe. From my standpoint, they started early and they went longer," said Champaign police Sgt. Scott Friedlein, the department's alcohol enforcement officer.

In 2010, there were 269 notices to appear issued; in 2009, the number was 351.

"Last year, we were pretty much done by midnight. (This year) we were out all the way up to bar closing (2 a.m.)," he said, adding that a chilly rain that started in the early evening did little to deter the partying.

It seemed to have the effect of creating longer lines at campus bars as revelers who had been outside much of the day sought shelter, he said. Friedlein said there weren't any problems at the bars different from any other typical weekend. Police planned to have a bigger than normal show of force on Saturday night as well.

Of the 328 NTAs issued, about 120 went to UIUC students.

The tickets were for such city ordinance violations as adults allowing minors to drink, minors in possession of alcohol, the purchase of too many kegs, open alcohol, public possession of alcohol, sale of alcohol to minors, throwing objects from balconies, fighting and resisting a peace officer. One NTA was issued for each of the following offenses: possession of cannabis, possession of drug paraphernalia, battery, public urination, loud noise, littering and unlawful use of ID.

Coming in a distant second for the college with a high number of offenders was Illinois State University in Bloomington-Normal with 17, followed by Parkland College in Champaign with nine. The offenders came from about 58 different institutions of higher education, three high schools and numerous cities, most of them in Illinois.

There were also students from Indiana, Missouri, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Colorado.

There were four arrests for violations of state laws – possession of cannabis and theft. Friedlein said the final tally is sure to push all those numbers higher. He said one young person was arrested on a state charge of being a minor in possession on the "three strikes and you're out" rule. The person was cited three times for the same offense during the day.

"We call them slow learners," Friedlein said.

One of the more alarming statistics involved the number of partyers taken to local hospitals because they were suffering from alcohol intoxication, an injury sustained while drunk, or were passed out. Accurate numbers were not available, but it exceeded 20.

"When we see kids in the 0.30 percent range (for blood-alcohol concentration), they start experiencing medical issues. When I see a kid passed out, I'm pretty confident he's at 0.30 or higher," Friedlein said.

Under Illinois law, a motorist is presumed intoxicated with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent.

Federal regulations regarding the privacy of medical records preclude officers from finding out how drunk the drunkest at the hospitals were.

Friedlein said he personally went on two medical calls, one in which a young man could answer questions about where he was, so he was not taken to a hospital, and another who couldn't, so he was.

"When they don't or can't communicate, that's where the real danger is," he said.

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DEB wrote on March 06, 2011 at 9:03 am

Let's hope the tab for all the overtime work by police, firefighters, ambulance, ER personnel, etc. is passed on to the bar owners and not to the taxpayers. If not, I suspect the move among Champaign residents that one of my neighbors approached me about-- to make campustown a dry zone-- will gain more and more support. He already had 600 signatures. The students bring a lot to this town, but they destroy any goodwill they earn when they insist on breaking the laws, going to class drunk, fighting with police, etc. All because some bar owners are jealous that every few years St Patrick's Day falls during Spring Break and students don't give local bar owners all their (parents) money.

Yatiri wrote on March 06, 2011 at 10:03 am

easily done, double or treble their liquor license fees.

this problem event was the brain child of a bar owner, Cochrane, I believe

does Cochrane continue to make windfall profits today? which bars does he own?

sameeker wrote on March 06, 2011 at 11:03 am

We also need to ban Christmas. Look at the HUGE profits the stores make from it, all in the name of "giving".

Conspicuous wrote on March 06, 2011 at 11:03 am
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All this will do is force the kids inside, away from help when they need it. It will cause more damage to private property, university property, and end in more alcohol poisonings when the kids are tucked away in private homes rather than out where people can see and help them.

I'm just astounded at how many people see this has a horrible thing for the community. Yes, the bars make more money on Unofficial than most other days of the year, but so do restaurants, hotels, and stores. An influx of 10,000+ people with cash in hand helps everyone! Instead of complaining about the cost, look at the benefits, and find a way to spread those benefits out to the greater community. Sanction the event by inviting parents down for it, and suddenly, there's even more money - and more control. Make it a street party so that the revelers are contained. Set fixed hours, cancel University classes that day, and have a parade for St. Patrick's Day.

Rather than constantly complaining about something no one can control - and yes, that includes the city councils and the University President - find a way to make it a boon for the local economy. Goodness knows we can use it around here.

IU1977 wrote on March 06, 2011 at 9:03 am

Excellent idea. Too bad CM Bruno likens this to a stadium full of folks watching the Illini games...no not really there Tom.. How many cops are on duty for Illini games, how many tickets are issued, how many drunken students get taken to the hospitals with bac over .40 and how many students get hit by cars? If this is such a great idea, why not bring back the Halloween tradition that we had in the 70's and 80's. Oh thats right, once the City got sued, they put an end to it. Hopefully someone will sue the City and put an end to this nonsense.

Yatiri wrote on March 06, 2011 at 10:03 am

Bruno and Schweighart have seemed far out of touch with community sentiment on the underage drinking problem on campus.

They both initially opposed a federal grant for preventive programs http://www.news-gazette.com/news/politics-and-government/2010-02-17/cham....

After outcry and arm twisting they had to flip flop their position on the federal grants for prevention of underage drinking.

sameeker wrote on March 06, 2011 at 11:03 am

They don't want to prevent anything. If they do, they lose a huge source of revenue from shaking down the students. I guess they could close the bars down and impose a surtax on all nondrinkers to make up the difference.

Commonsenseman wrote on March 06, 2011 at 11:03 am

the Halloween party should come back, I really enjoyed the costumes.

Yatiri wrote on March 06, 2011 at 10:03 am

What Will It Take?

As liquor commissioner, the mayor of Champaign has the authority to close the campus bars in an emergency.

Every year drunk students fall off balconies and wreak mayhem. This year a student is in intensive care after being run over during the public drunkenness.

I just wonder what would it take for the mayor to use his legal authority to close the bars. What if he would have closed the bars at midnight instead of 2 am?

sameeker wrote on March 06, 2011 at 10:03 am

There was a wreck on 74 the other day so park you car. Or is safety an issue (excuse) that applies to other people only?

sameeker wrote on March 06, 2011 at 10:03 am

The students spend millions a year in the community. They have a right to whoop it up once a year. All of you do gooders want them to come here, sit down, shut up and hand over their money. Our tax dollars already pay for the police and public services, so there is no need to charge the bars for something that we all pay taxes for. Before long, everybody will just stay in their houses because it costs too much to pay nonsense fines for doing something minuscule while out. I don't want to hear the pious minority complaining about money until they are willing to pay property taxes on their churches and income taxes on the money that they bring in. While we are at it, let's tax political contributions and revenue generated by government organizations. After all, they are a business just like all others. 328 tickets times $300 per ticket in fines equals $98,400. A 30% tax on that would provide $29,520 that could be used to pay bills in Illinois.

Conspicuous wrote on March 06, 2011 at 11:03 am
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It seems to me that the University and the cities of Urbana and Champaign are going about this all wrong. Instead of fighting this event, why not embrace it? Make it official. Make it a parents' weekend. Invite the kids' parents down to enjoy the festivities. Close off Green Street and make it a street party. Have a parade. Make it the Sweetcorn Festival of Champaign. Add a few bands, and really make it a good time!

The minute this event is officially sanctioned, it will lose its luster. The moment the parents say, "Oh, yes! Let's spend that weekend with the kiddos!", the kiddos will start to reign in their festivities. Quite frankly, it seems rather ridiculous to keep adding more and more rules to something that is all about breaking the rules. And even more ridiculous is making rules that encourages the kids to drink in their dorm rooms or apartments, away from help when they need it.

Have none of those in charge of these cities ever had a teenager?? Say no, and it's all they want. Make it something cool for the parents, and it's the last thing they'll want to do. Use some common sense and a little psychology and you could easily have this event under control in one short year.

Commonsenseman wrote on March 06, 2011 at 11:03 am

this is a great idea! The presence of parents would really tone it down! brilliant!

IU1977 wrote on March 06, 2011 at 12:03 pm

Guess you dont pay attention to "cougar" weekend when all the moms show up on campus. To quote a CPD Lt from a few mothers days a few years ago... "some moms come down to go to the flower show other moms come down to throw up on Green Street". Having parents come down isnt such a hot idea... and for those that want to make it a sweetcorn event in the first of March? Remember why this started in the first place... One of the bar owners was mad that theU of I was out of session over St Pats day, so he thought he would have is own celebration. Now that the U of I is in SESSION on St Pats day, are we going through this goat rope again?

John O'Connor wrote on March 06, 2011 at 12:03 pm

I agree. Co-opt it and bring the parents down on Saturday and Sunday. Most will tone it down on Friday if parents will be around the next day. The old approach obviously isn't working.

texasdoug wrote on March 06, 2011 at 1:03 pm

As a former townie...who cares? It's college. It adds $$$ to the economy. Police are happy for revenue, bar owners happy for business. It' no worse than in the '60s and '70s. Second Chance or Dooley's anyone?

vnp wrote on March 06, 2011 at 4:03 pm

sameeker is 100% correct. this c/u area does not know how to deal with real humans doing real human things. sit down, shut up and hand over your money is ALL this area is seriously good for. sad. u of i students, go somewhere, anywhere else. stop wasting money here.

peabody wrote on March 06, 2011 at 9:03 pm

I see the nanny staters are out in force. The person who proposed making Campus Town a dry zone really takes the cake. These are adults making their own choices. We should no longer consider them children or call their parents. It's horrible when an accident happens but, you know, they are fully aware of the risks of alcohol. We cannot and will not stop college students from looking for a good time.

jamesricci wrote on March 06, 2011 at 9:03 pm

LEAVE THOSE KIDS ALONE! The ones who broke the law got ticketed. What they're doing is their Constitutional Right! Quit trying to take their rights away from them. That's all you ignorant folk do, try to make more laws. Let the kids get drunk and have a good time. They're not hurting you. Stop worrying about them hurting themselves. You want to make a law to stop them. There should be a law stopping you people from hurting yourselves....You ignorant folk are no longer aloud to leave your house. You will remain in a padded room for the rest of your life. We don't want to take the chance of you hurting yourself or anyone else, intentionally or on accident.
Thank You!

freechampaign wrote on March 06, 2011 at 11:03 pm

In part what you are saying is true. However the statement "they're not hurting you ' is not totally correct. There were countless reports of innocent victims being hit with objects thrown off balconies by some of these drunks having a good time. Then there is the amount of property damage caused my these same drunks having a good time. What should we as the "ignorant folk" say to these victims? Suck it up those students are just living withing their Constitutional Rights.

quicksprt98 wrote on March 07, 2011 at 10:03 am

There is also a "Lets go check out all the drunks on Green St." mentality of Unofficial, so either be a part of the festivities or stay the heck away from campus all together!! However, innocent victims get hit with objects because they are trying to get an eye full of some of the events happening! Stay the heck away and no innocents have to be hurt! Drunks will be drunks, they are stupid, if you don't want to have to deal with them then stay away! It's just that easy!

freechampaign wrote on March 07, 2011 at 12:03 pm

So you are easy to say that these people were all just there to see the drunks. How about the students (non drinkers) that live on campus that need to get from point a to point b or workers that need to do the same. I forgot that campus was closed to all except the drunks and idiots.

illinoisgrad wrote on March 06, 2011 at 11:03 pm

I'd like to offer input as a former participant into this event.

Everyone is complaining about 350 tickets being issues... for over 10,000 people participating.

That is less than 4% of the people participating getting ticketed. 95% of the students are just having a good time, like any other weekend on this campus.

If you don't want to witness the event, don't come to green street or on campus that day. It isn't hard.

As for the person who by a driver, the law enforcement agencies AND the parents have issued statements saying alcohol was not a factor. It was just an accident. The student came here many weekends to visit friends. It could equally have happened any other day.

In regards to the property damage statements... Obviously, this isn't right by any means. However, these costs, I guarantee you, are included in our monthly rent. They budget for this. Even those students not involved in the damage, end up paying their fair share of the damage disorderly students caused.

Lastly, how are the rules being added every year of any help?

1) No liquor sales on campus area on the day - GREAT make the students drive drunk off campus to get it.
2) No under 21 in the bar. GREAT put the freshmen who are probably already the most irresponsible into private parties with no 'authority' looking over their well being.
3) Dorms not allow guests into them this weekend - GREAT force students to stay at their friends apartments with 10-15 other people and stay up even later drinking and partying.

I'm sorry but whoever is in charge of 'controlling' this event is an idiot.

The students are 18-22+ years old. The vast majority will not get in trouble. A small minority will get a ticket. An even smaller minority will cause some damage. An extremely small minority will get dangerously sick.

Enjoy the revenue, Champaign. We provide millions of dollars per year for you. You increase sales tax to 8.5% while reducing property taxes ... mmm I wonder which group of residents that affects (students, maybe)? You can get over 1 day a year.

JRG51988 wrote on March 07, 2011 at 2:03 am

So out of 328 tickets, only three of them were issued for something that could affect the surrounding people - loud noise, public urination, and littering - and we're supposed to believe this is more of a problem of out of control kids? Sounds more like a case of cops headhunting. I know a girl who got a $300 whatever-it-is underage drinking ticket for blowing a .03. Ridiculous. In response to some other posters, liquor licenses have gone up huge amounts in the last few years, much more than doubled or tripled. The liquor commission was issuing fines because one bar happened to have two signs that had different brand names on them along with the bar's name. And that's the best the liquor commission could find? Not as many people as you think are breaking the law here. Yes, some may be, but don't blame the bars, they are doing everything they can to comply with the outrageous and dictatorial laws that the local government is enforcing on them.

ToughTimes wrote on March 09, 2011 at 3:03 pm

Its funny to hear so many commenting saying that this just wastes resource when it actually does the opposite. The city is looking at making well over 100K in simple fines and ordinance violations (which the majority will simply pay). Further there are some 20,000 people that come in for this event that all spend money on liquor food and god knows what else when they are in town. If you dont like people partying then I'd ask why in the world you live in a college town. Sorry, but I am a part of the statistics in this article and while I was receiving my ticket I felt nothing but like a cash cow. Not only had I been completely sober, but I was in no way causing a scene. But hey I didn't get mad I just accepted my licks and moved on even though I was the victim of an illegal search and seizure... The people who can't handle themselves are the ones who are the problem, and they are the problem because they are irresponsible not because of Unofficial but simply because they dont know their limits. Further there is no basis to ban this event from taking place, and even if they did the bars will drop the event and find a new one because people want to celebrate and unless you change that they will find a way.