Parents from other states who send their children to college in Arkansas are often comforted by the large number of “dry” counties (including Faulkner County) in the state. However, the laws surrounding “wet” and “dry” areas generally address only the sale of alcohol – not the consumption of it.
Anyone who thinks that there are fewer alcohol-related arrests for things like DUI and public intoxication in dry counties underestimates people’s ability to secure alcohol. And, these aren’t the only criminal offenses a college student – even one who’s at or over the legal drinking age — could face if they’ve had too much to drink.
Drinking or being drunk in public
It should be noted first that Arkansas law prohibits not just public intoxication but any drinking in public. That’s defined as consuming an “alcoholic beverage in any public place…other than a place of business licensed to sell alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises.” Drinking in public and/or public intoxication is a misdemeanor that will likely result in a fine unless your student does something harmful or destructive. That’s where disorderly conduct comes in.
This is defined under the law as “[p]urposely inconveniencing, annoying, or alarming others or recklessly creating a risk of inconveniencing, annoying or alarming others.” It includes a wide range of behavior, such as:
- Making “unreasonable or excessive noise”
- Using obscene language or gestures “in a manner likely to provoke a violent or disorderly response”
- Fighting with or threatening people
- Disturbing a meeting or other lawful assembly
- Obstructing traffic
- Exposing “one’s private parts”
Further, refusing to leave a location when instructed to by law enforcement is also considered disorderly conduct even if someone wasn’t engaged in the kinds of behavior noted above. A disorderly conduct conviction can get a person 30 days behind bars and hundreds of dollars in fines. Of course, they can face even more serious charges if someone is injured or property is damaged.
While many parents may think their college student should face the justice system on their own to better “learn their lesson,” a criminal conviction can have far-reaching consequences on their college education and their future. Legal guidance can help them protect their rights moving forward.