Party Punishment: Tips for Staying Citation-Free

Students argue that ticketing has become more of an issue than ever before this past semester. (Brendan McGaughey | Grand Central Magazine)

Central vs. Western weekend is notorious for alcohol consumption, loud music and a substantial amount of violations delivered by the hosting university’s city police.

This year, celebrations in Mount Pleasant were no exception.

An armada of Mount Pleasant Police cars patrolled both Friday and Saturday night – looking for large gatherings and illegal activity. The tickets received by students came in array of pricing and legal gravity.

The following information is stated on the Isabella County Trial Court website.

Civil infractions, the most common of student offenses, require the submission of payment to the Isabella County Trial Court. Whether denying or assuming responsibility for the infraction, contact with the court must be made within 14 days of receiving the violation.

Civil Infractions vary in price, but leave less of a stain on student’s legal records. The large majority of these low-level violations are vehicle related, and or can be wiped clear upon payment. (Failure to stop, turning violations, speeding tickets, registration and insurance protocol, window tinting and defective equipment citations.)

The most common party-related infraction is easily the dreaded noise violation. If a gathering is “too loud” (or your neighbors are trying to study or make a phone call), expect a fine of $125. This is hardly the worst of the party punishments.

Misdemeanors, a more serious level of violation, tend to teach students a more memorable lesson. These violations not only require higher payment to the court, but a personal appearance for arraignment. If accepting the charge, the violator must contact the court within 14 days to receive judgment (or the date specified on the ticket.) If denying responsibility, a plea can be made at the time of arraignment.

Hosting a nuisance party, a charge that can require up to $500 in fines, is one of the most common party-related tickets given (M.I.P.’s, and open intoxication fines also remain popular during large-gathering dispersals.)

According to the Mount Pleasant Police Department public annual reports, the jump in nuisance related incidents rose from less than 50 offenses in 2008, to just below 70 in 2009. Did neighbors call, or are officers simply looking for infractions?

It has to be easy for an officer to claim that neighbors called, or that officers patrolling a nearby street could hear the sounds of raging students. Most likely, the officers are circling highly populated areas – scouring for busts.

Here are a few tips for dealing with law enforcement in a large-gathering situation.

If and when an officer shows up to your party (uninvited), be polite. Being rude will not encourage a smooth exchange.

Upon agreeing to speak to an officer, do so outside (leave the beverage), and shut your door behind you. Any reason an officer sees to continue investigating will result in additional fines/citations. Your I.D. will be asked for.

Be compliant and truthful. Once again, an officer who senses uncooperative behavior will respond with a similar attitude (along with superior authority).

Clear out. The police want students to exit in a safe fashion, so refrain from suspicious exiting strategies. Running, jumping and obvious sneaking should be avoided. If you act guilty, police will assume you are up to something – so keep your calm and stay away from dangerous escapes.

Stay off of public property. Drinking/ unacceptable behavior on public property (sidewalks, roads and parking lots) is easy to identify, and remains a popular way to be cited. Students must be knowledgeable of their surroundings, and aware of appropriate spots to be holding a red cup (alcohol.)

Get home safe. Once a party is broken up, those who have left should find a safe place to be. Wandering the streets of a nearby problem gathering will result in trouble. Contact friends and travel carefully.

Remember, the police work to keep students safe. Be polite, keep your calm and respond to citation responsibilities appropriately (not doing so will result in heavy penalties). These are not felony charges (not the end of your world.) However, knowing your rights as a citizen can prevent excessive prosecution and colossal fines.

For more information about local citations or additional common offenses – visit these public data sources.