New effort means jail time for underage drinkers at Miami

An attempt to curb underage consumption of alcohol in Oxford, home of Miami University, has recently sent more then 40 people to Hamilton for an overnight stay in the Butler County Jail.

Last weekend four people ages 18, 19 and 20, were booked into the jail for underage consumption or possession as a result of bar checks by Oxford police. Sgt. Jon Varley said the arrests are part of a concentrated effort to keep everyone safe and stop destructive behavior that surrounds drinking alcohol.

“In the past, depending on the level of intoxication, we have issued a citation and released them to a sober person who was able to care for them,” Varley said. “But in some cases, we ended up dealing with the same person, with higher levels of intoxication, two or three times in the same night.”

Varley said placing those accused of underage consumption behind bars takes repeat behavior “out of the equation.”

Underage drinking has led to past incidents including students at sorority parties that damaged Lake Lyndsay Lodge and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati.

Butler County Sheriff’s deputies continue to investigate a crash the killed University of Cincinnati football player Ben Flick and Miami University Freshman Sean VanDyne, who was behind the wheel when the car went out of control in Hanover Twp., but they have said alcohol may have been a factor.

Since students returned to Oxford for the school year, approximately 42 people have been booked into the Butler County Jail on alcohol-related charges, Varley said.

“At first they were surprised,” Varley said. “But word spread pretty quickly.”

The department will now evaluate the practice to determine if it was a deterrent. Varley said he believes it was. But transporting offenders to Hamilton ties up officers and is costly, he added.

Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser has also provided Miami University and Oxford Police with a letter that is sent to parents of students charged with underage consumption of alcohol. It is a practice Gmoser initiated a couple years ago.

The letter states, “Your child is presumed innocent of this charge until proven guilty and because your child is an adult you have no obligation whatsoever regarding this charge. This notification is made in the event this information is helpful to you in addressing any issue you deem appropriate concerning your child’s conduct. This notification is provided as part of a program to eliminate underage consumption of alcohol because of the dangers presented by this violation of law to offenders and the community.”

“It is Sodom and Gomorrah every Friday and Saturday night in Oxford,” said Gmoser, who added that too often the young adults are able to get the money to pay fines without telling their parents about their offenses.

About the Author