Johnson County Courthouse

Johnson County Courthouse
Johnson County Courthouse

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Tailgating & Law Enforcement: What to Know



It’s hard to believe that a quarter of the Hawkeye football regular season is over. As an Iowa City Criminal Defense Attorney, I often get calls from potential clients cited or arrested by law enforcement during or after a Hawkeye tailgate.  With my criminal defense practice in Iowa City, I’ve found that the most common tailgating infractions or criminal charges are open container violations, public intoxication, possession of alcohol under the legal age (“PAULA”), and OWI. These calls have prompted me to offer a few words of wisdom. 

First, if you’re going to tailgate, it makes sense to read and familiarize yourself with the University of Iowa’s tailgating rules and guidelines. These rules can be found here

Second, if you are under 21 you run the risk of a PAULA citation if seen by an officer possessing or consuming alcohol.  Officers inevitably fan out and patrol the stadium parking lot, the streets and sidewalks around the stadium, and even private residences near the stadium that are popular places to party.  A PAULA charge can problematic. It’s not worth the risk. If you’re under 21, enjoy the tailgate without alcohol. 

Third, if you are over 21 and consuming alcohol at a tailgate you need to use your head.  Drinking too much can lead to a public intoxication charge, which will likely lead to a trip to the Johnson County Jail.  It is also wise to pay special attention to the City of Iowa City and the University’s policy on where alcohol can be consumed. Again, it makes sense to read the University’s rules and guidelines on tailgating.  Hard liquor is strictly prohibited. Moreover, consumption of beer and wine are only allowed on game day in designated University parking areas during designated hours. Possession of alcohol on a public street or sidewalk is a violation of Iowa City’s open container ordinance. 

Fourth, do not drive home from your tailgate if you have had too much to drink. It takes longer than you would think for your BAC to drop to safe and legal levels for driving after a day of heavy drinking. As an Iowa City and Cedar Rapids OWI attorney, I know that the costs and consequences of an OWI are significant and that it’s best to catch a cab or ride home with a friend when in doubt.  

Go Hawks!

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