Alcohol-related incidents top OUPD citations given this semester
Since Jan. 10, alcohol-related violations have accounted for 37 percent of total citations issued by OUPD.
During that time, of 182 total citations issued, 23 have related to driving under the influence, 43 to intoxication, and one to a minor in possession of alcohol.
Intoxication has accounted for the highest number of citations issued by Lt. Bruce Chan’s department since Jan. 10, with 32 public intoxication citations issued and 11 other intoxication reports recorded.
To learn more about OU’s alcohol abuse resources, visit Healthy Sooners
In contrast with OUPD’s percentages, the average yearly percentage of Norman Police Department citations and arrests related to drunkenness or driving under the influence between 1990 and 2010 was 10.3 percent.
During 2011, the percentage of crimes and citations issued for both the University of Texas and Oklahoma State Police Departments related to alcohol were 23.4 and 29.8 percents respectively, according to the totals posted by both departments on their organizational websites.
On OU’s Norman campus, 254 liquor law violations resulting in arrests were recorded in 2008, 354 were recorded in 2009 and 404 were recorded in 2010, according to statistics compiled by OUPD, the Norman Police Department, OU Student Affairs, Housing and Food Services and the Athletics Department in the 2011 Sooner Safety and Fire Report.
Intoxication citations not issued for public drunkenness refer to situations where those who are drunk in their dorm or another private place are inebriated to the point that they need to be given medical care or overseen by a sober party, according to OUPD reports.
Issuing an intoxication citation is an officer’s judgement call, because there is no blood alcohol test issued for public intoxication, Chan said.
If a person’s behavior has been affected to the point that they are committing acts of vandalism or urinating in public as opposed to just stumbling home, it’s much more likely they will be arrested, Chan said.
“We’re not trying to arrest everyone that’s stumbling around and has been drinking,” Chan said. “When we come across people who are intoxicated to the point where they are no longer able to take care of themselves and get themselves home, we try to find a sober and responsible person to help them out. Lacking that, that’s when we would make an arrest.”
OUPD also monitors the roads in and around campus, which has resulted in the 23 alcohol-related driving violations issued since Jan. 10.
When a vehicle is pulled over and the officer notices signs of impairment, the officer will ask the driver to undergo a Field Sobriety Test, Chan said. If the officer notices sufficient signs of impairment that person will be put into custody, handcuffed and taken to the county jail where they are asked to submit to a breathalyzer test.
The offender can refuse the breathalyzer. If he or she does so the District Attorney still can charge them with a DUI, Chan said.
Oklahoma’s legal blood alcohol limit for operating a motor vehicle is .06 percent. Driving While Impaired is viewed as a lesser offense than Driving Under the Influence, which is issued if a driver is found to have a blood alcohol level of .08 percent.
A first-time DUI offender can serve between 10 days to 1 year as well as having a mandatory ignition interlock device installed in his or her vehicle, according to state law.
The mandatory interlock law, known as the Erin Swezey Act, was signed into law by the state legislature in November.
Erin Swezey was an Oklahoma State University student killed by a drunk driver in April of 2009 while driving on the Kilpatrick Turnpike in Oklahoma City.
In addition to the Swezey Act, the Oklahoma House of Representatives passed a bill Monday that would increase the maximum punishment for causing great bodily injury in an accident caused by a drunken driver from 5 years imprisonment to 10 years.
The University Counseling Center, located on the second floor of Goddard Health Center, offers individual and group programs to curb alcohol abuse, according to the Healthy Sooners website.