While Halloween in Isla Vista is famous for providing a rockin’ good time, it is also infamous for creating health problems and legal trouble, both of which were topics discussed by law enforcement officers at a recent forum held by Associated Students.
Representatives from the I.V. Foot Patrol, California Highway Patrol and the University of California Police Dept. came together last Thursday in Embarcadero Hall to discuss Halloween preparations with the community. The hour-long event, attended by about 35 community members, featured discourse on common Halloween violations. IVFP Lt. Sol Linver, CHP Sgt. Dane Lobb and UCPD spokesman Matt Bowman addressed specific concerns about Halloween activity.
At the meeting, Bowman said this year’s I.V. revelers should take greater caution because the district attorney has become more stringent on prosecuting misdemeanors. As a result, common citations, such as minor in possession of alcohol or public intoxication, could garner a sizable penalty.
“If a person is intoxicated enough to not be able to take care of themselves or others, they’re coming with us,” Bowman said. “The district attorney has changed the way they’re handling these cases. It’s very different today. The punishments have gone up. … This is going to be one of the biggest years ever, even though Halloween is on a Wednesday.”
In preparation for the swell of people who are expected to take over Del Playa Drive and Sabado Tarde Road, officials have requested backup from other UC campuses. The police ranks will include officers from UC Los Angeles, UC Irvine and UC Riverside. Officers will total 200 on the heaviest nights, which include Friday, Oct. 26, Saturday, Oct. 27, and Wednesday, Oct. 31.
In addition to increasing police presence in I.V., Lobb said the CHP will set up a checkpoint to ensure that no one can drive in or out of the community while intoxicated.
“Tell all your friends that, if they even consider drinking, not to get in their car,” Lobb said. “You won’t get a block out of Isla Vista without seeing a patrol car.”
Lobb also said that the punishments for drunk driving citations are immense, especially for students about to enter the business world.
“You really do not want to get a DUI on your record,” Lobb said. “It will follow you for 10 years. It will affect your ability to get jobs.”
Immediate penalties of a DUI conviction typically include loss of license, three days in jail and a $1,700 fine, although the total cost usually comes around $8,500 when increased insurance rates and license fees are taken into consideration.
Lobb said that, although people usually accuse the police of intentionally ruining their lives, he would rather not arrest anyone.
“The last thing I want to do is arrest you,” Lobb said. “I’d much rather go to the coffee shop, drink my coffee and eat my donuts. But the first time you pick someone off the street who has been killed by a drunk driver, when you sit with their family, it stays with you.”
Linver also provided some tips to help prevent a confrontation with the police. If officers observe people walking in and out of a party freely, it is deemed an “open party,” and police have the right to come in, he said. If a barrier exists – for example, a bouncer with a guest list – it is deemed to be a “closed party,” and police would need reasonable suspicion of illegal activity to check the premises.
While Linver said he recognized that most students are hesitant to deal with authorities, he made it clear that if someone is at risk of alcohol poisoning, someone should immediately call the paramedics without reservation.
“If you have somebody who’s passed out at your house and you’re worried about their well-being, call the ‘medics,” Linver said. “We might show up. For the most part, we’re going to take your name.”
At the close of the event, A.S. Public Safety Commission chair Faris Shalan, said the meeting succeeded in educating those who attended.
“I feel, as a whole, the meeting provided a way to party without getting in trouble for it,” Shalan said. “I think most of the people in I.V. drink and the [I.V.] Foot Patrol knows that. As long as people are respectful and careful, everything will be all right.”