It’s hard to believe the new school year has already started. Time to put away the sunscreen, surf board, ice-filled cooler and flip-flops and start gearing up for winter. Which, of course, in Santa Barbara means taking out the sunscreen, surfboard, cooler and fur-lined Crocs. Roughin’ it Santa Barbara style!

Of course, winter also means that all of you are back here, or starting here, at UCSB. In addition to all of the hard studying you all will be doing, I’m sure at least a couple of you will be heading out to do a little taste testing of the local I.V. weekend culture. Here I am again to hopefully offer some tips and suggestions on having a safe time while out and about and avoiding run-ins with the local constabulary. Or, heaven forbid, you do get popped by the Foot Patrol, help in taking care of those sticky situations.

Of course some of you are going to ask, “Why would I ever listen to the cops?” I’m not saying you have to listen to, or believe, anything I have to say. In fact, I encourage you to take what I have to say with a grain of salt and go ask others as well. The whole point of going to college is to learn to ask questions and decide for yourself. Whether it’s the cops, your professors, guidance counselors or TV guide, we are all just a source of information. It’s up to you to take that information and combine it with other sources to decide for yourself what to believe. Hopefully you will consider your sources and realize that maybe the guy on his third beer bong and working on his long distance hurling record may not be the best resource, but again, it’s up to you to decide. I may not hold the house record, but in my twenty years as a cop here I think I have a fairly decent grasp of the laws and issues. Am I biased? Duh! I’m a cop! Of course I am. But I also believe it’s my job to help you regardless of the situation.

So if you see a problem, or get a ticket or just are curious about the laws, don’t go all “Joe Wilson” on the cops. Write, e-mail, semaphore or call and ask me. That’s what I’m here for. So to get us started Questioning Authority, here are a couple of the questions I received this summer.

If I get a beer ticket, will I lose my driver’s license?

It’s definitely possible. In California, if you get charged with an alcohol or drug violation and you are under 21-years-old, you can have your license suspended for up to one year. However, in Santa Barbara County, if it’s your first violation you may be eligible to attend an alcohol/drug education class that will allow you to avoid the suspension. Complete the Santa Barbara Zona Seca program or the UCSB C.A.S.E. program, and you can avoid the license suspension.

Just before I got to UCSB I received a traffic ticket at home. Can I fight the ticket and have the court trial moved to Santa Barbara?

When you move a trial from one jurisdiction to another, it’s called a Change of Venue. Is it possible? Sure. Then again, it’s also possible that I get struck by lighting while trying to out swim a tiger shark and holding my Super Lotto winning ticket. What I’m trying to say is that, yes, you can request a change of venue to Santa Barbara, but you would have to show the court a really good reason, such as you can’t get a fair trial. A judge would not likely grant one just because you are now living out of the area. Sorry.

I hope that you all have a great year and enjoy the great community we share. If you do find yourself in a situation or have a question about something you’ve seen or heard about, don’t hesitate to take a minute and Question Authority!

Got caught by a cop? Your party popped by the Po-Po? Ticked by a ticket? If you have questions, don’t let it eat away at you, Question Authority! E-mail me anytime at: or call UCSB PD at (805) 893-3446.