Party, but play by the rules

The approaching end of the semester will no doubt mean that quite a number of parties will be held. However, for those students who are planning to spend their break frequenting the club and bar scene, it would be wise to consider the latest statistics in alcohol-related student arrests during vacation periods.

According to United Press International, alcohol-related arrests involving minors during the traditional Spring Break timeframe rose by 53 percent from last year. Approximately 5,200 of these arrests occurred between the start of March to early April — the time when most university spring breaks fall and were attributed to underage drinking and the use of false identification by those under the legal drinking age. Also, according to the Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco, 1,000 fake IDs were confiscated during that month-long period.

As the Ft. Lauderdale Sentinel reported, popular Spring break locations like Ft. Lauderdale, Panama City Beach and Daytona Beach all stepped up their enforcement of regulations related to alcohol consumption, imposing harsher punishments. Panama City had a record of over 2,000 arrests in the month-long period, closely trailed by Daytona with approximately 1,500.

The U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or more commonly recognized as the ATF, deployed approximately 100 of its undercover officers at each of these locations — as well as others statewide — during spring break. The ATF is known for sending in undercover agents, usually underage minors, carrying false identification into bars and clubs to test if regulations concerning the sale of alcohol are followed. The ATF will also arrest disorderly bar patrons and minors who are caught consuming alcohol, be it inside a venue or in public, as reported by the Bureau’s Web site.

With the rise in spring arrests, the regulations that were initially implemented during spring break may well be extended to the summer vacation period. As Florida houses many vacationing “hot-spots,” it would be understandable that the ATF and local law enforcement will again be on guard. Naturally this means not only tourists will be eyed closer than usual, but locals will also have to follow the rules. Students should bear this in mind while blowing off steam after finals are done.