The anticipation is palpable in the Isla Vista Foot Patrol office as more and more officers file into the room. Friday, Aug. 24 marks the weekend before Santa Barbara City College starts its fall session. In response, the police force charged with keeping order in the square mile that has become infamous for its parties has upped its numbers to 16 officers on foot and several “rover” units in squad cars.
At 10 p.m. the deputies and officers leave the station and break into several large groups consisting of about five men each and head toward the infamous Del Playa Drive. All conversation halts and eye contact is avoided as students pass by the officers. Partiers on the decks of houses above can be heard muttering, “Uh oh, there’s the police, what time is it?” in a bid to avoid a ticket for violating Santa Barbara County’s midnight noise curfew.
Ninety percent of all crime in I.V. is alcohol-related. Fear, however, is not necessary according to IVFP deputy Isaiah Tchobanoff. He said if you just follow the rules you can have both a social life and a clean record.
“Ignorance is no excuse,” Tchobanoff said. “You have responsibility as students to know the laws.”
All of It?
Three young men walk down the 6500 block of DP carrying two cases of beer while drinking some. They see the cops and begin speed walking, but to no avail. Tchobanoff instructs them to sit down on the curb while he begins to gather their information. One of the men does not have an ID so he tells Tchobanoff his details.
At the scene, Sergeant Daniel Massey explains the consequences of these actions as he watches one sullen young man on the curb with his Coors beer.
“If what he says is true then he’ll be given a ticket and sent on his way – after pouring out all the beer,” Massey said.
Two of the young men are issued infractions for open containers. If the men were under 21, they would have received a minor in possession citation, which is a misdemeanor. An MIP penalty is more serious than an infraction and results in a mandatory court appearance where the judge can pick from a plethora of punishments to bestow upon the lawbreaker. These men, however, are of legal age and so they are given their tickets and instructed to pour out all of the beer.
While the two are still soaking the ground with suds, another young man walks onto the street talking on his cell phone with a beer in the other hand. In a matter of seconds he is plopped down next to our current offenders crying, “Wait, I was just in there. I came out to talk on my cell phone!”
Too late. Officers can issue open container citations in places with public access like the street, the sidewalk and even some driveways. The infraction carries a $108 fine.
All these gentlemen could have easily avoided the tickets if they had just waited to enjoy that Rocky Mountain taste indoors.
Dude, Where’s My Gas Cap?
Near the end of the 6500 block of DP, officers catch a young man tampering with an Isuzu parked along the street. The man has removed the gas cap and placed it on the top of the car. An officer takes the man’s driver license and begins reviewing the information when both officers suddenly take off running to break up a potential fight down the block. The vehicular hooligan cries out to his friends standing in the shadows across the street, “Should I run? He has my ID! Should I run?”
“Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!” cheer his friends but just as the young man leans forward to run, the officers return, none too happy upon observing his attempt of flight. The owner of the Isuzu is retrieved from the house behind, briefed of the situation and asked if he would like to press charges. The irate Isuzu driver enthusiastically proclaims, “I am so sick of people messing with my car. Yeah, I wanna press charges!”
The offender begins to babble that he was just pulling a prank and that all sorts of people have screwed with his car in the past. The officers explain that it is no excuse for messing with a stranger’s vehicle and that they have no idea if the removal of the gas cap was all the young man would have done. The young man is charged with vehicle tampering, which is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine, imprisonment or both. The young man is placed in handcuffs and walked to a police car.
The White Rubber Gloves
Around 1:30 a.m., a large group of IVFP deputies and officers are standing in front of the 6500 DP beach access when a young man stumbles to the top of the stairs from the salty scented darkness below. The man is extremely intoxicated and appears suspicious. The officers now have probable cause to search him.
This quickly leads to a classic “spread ’em” situation against a police car. Two officers put on white rubber gloves. One officer searches the man and hands whatever he finds to the other. The sea-loving drunkard has a round, silver flask full of dark alcohol. The liquor is poured out and the man is handcuffed and taken to the county jail for public intoxication. Once the man has sobered up, police will release him and he may receive some additional fines.
Generally, courts will mandate that first-time offenders under 21 enroll in the Youth Offender Program. Penalties can include fines, the suspension of one’s driver license for one year and mandatory alcohol classes. In addition, UCSB may send a letter home to one’s parents detailing the violation.
As far as I.V. weekends go, this particular night is actually uneventful. Police gave 25 citations and made two arrests, most of which were for open containers. Carrying an open container down DP is like playing Russian roulette and the safest way to win is not to play. The mistakes made by these rabble-rousers are easily avoided if you party as smart as you party hard.
General Guidelines for Citation-Free Partying
1. Always carry your cups upside-down to show you have no booze and the IVFP will have no reason to stop you.
2. After midnight on weekends and ten on weekdays, music cannot be audible from 100 feet over a property line or you can get a noise infraction that comes with a $108 fine.
3. Walk your bike to avoid a BUI. That’s biking under the influence and although it may seem fun at the time, if convicted, you’ll have to go to court and possibly pay a fine of $1,300 and have your driver license suspended for a year.
4. Don’t carry an open container!
5. If you’re under 21, even carrying a closed container of alcohol for someone else can get you a citation.
6. Holding hands with 12 other people will not save you from getting in trouble if you’re intoxicated.
7. Don’t lie or mouth off to the IVFP.
8. Don’t attract attention to yourself by running, yelling or picking a fight.
9. Don’t take off your shoes or sit down on the curb. It’s usually a sign that you’re intensely intoxicated and an officer will probably approach you.
10. Always party with friends who will watch out for your safety.