As Halloween gets closer, you’re probably noticing a lot more cops out and about on the weekends. No, you’re not seeing double. Or maybe some of you are, but either way, there are definitely more of us out there. Although some may not believe it, we are there not just to write tickets and arrest drunk students, but also to stop fights, check on the guy or girl crying on the corner, provide directions and even answer questions. Yes, I write beer tickets, but on average, I tend to give the directions to Freebirds a lot more often.

One of the most common tickets is the infamous “MIP,” or minor in possession of alcohol. And before you jump up and down yelling, “Ha-Ha! FRESHMAN!” I know of more than a few upperclassmen that had to “press hard, three copies” as well, so easy there tiger! We’ve all had our moments in the spotlight. But for some, it just happened to be the cop’s spotlight…

I’m 19 years old and I got a beer ticket on Del Playa last weekend. Is it really a misdemeanor? Do I have to put it on my applications that I was arrested for a misdemeanor?

Technically, the violation is a misdemeanor and an officer can arrest you and take you to jail for it. Do we? No. We issue a ticket and submit it to the court. The charge is filed at the court as an infraction, so technically you are not charged, or, if found guilty, convicted of a misdemeanor violation. In regard to your applications, most only ask about misdemeanor or felony convictions, so you would not have to list the MIP. If the application does ask about a misdemeanor arrest, you should list it to be safe. But honestly, I wouldn’t worry too much about the fact you got caught having a beer at 19 as being the deciding factor on whether or not you’re hired as a Nike sales rep or an AIG exec.

Now that I have the MIP ticket, what do I have to do?

The first thing you are required to do is appear in court either on the date at the bottom of your ticket, or sooner. The court will then provide you with information on the process and what your options are. You will have the choice of pleading guilty or not guilty. If you plead not guilty and win your trial, it’s all over. But no, you don’t get your beer back.

If you plead guilty or are found guilty in a trial, you can have a fine anywhere from $100 to $500, based on the number of previous offenses. The basic amount listed by the court is $170, but the judge has the final say if it should be more or less. You also have the potential to lose your driver license. To keep it, you have the option of attending an alcohol education class, either the Zona Seca ( or the UCSB C.A.S.E. program ( They are both good programs, so check which one works for you.

If you have a question about your ticket, maybe if you think it was wrongly given, or if you’re not sure about what to do with it, let me know. You can write, e-mail, call, tie a note to a rock and throw it through my window or contact me however you want to; just ask questions. Also, the A.S. Legal Resource Center (893-4246) is a good source of info. I highly encourage you to ask questions. That’s what I am here for.

And also don’t forget the Halloween Town Hall Meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 21. It’s at 7 p.m. at Embarcadero Hall (935 Embarcadero Del Norte). Take care and have a safe Halloween!.