In January 2012, the Minor Alcohol Preclusion Act (MAPA) was introduced to the Davis City Council. The act was proposed in light of community and council members’ concerns over underage drinking and neighborhood disturbances. City Council was scheduled to meet on Oct. 9, but will reconvene in 2014 instead to discuss the act.
The Davis Police can already make arrests for drinking-related conduct, such as public inebriation, possessing an open container and supplying minors with alcohol. There are also other local ordinances that attempt to curb “nuisance parties” and social gatherings that serve alcohol to minors.
If MAPA were enacted, the Davis Police would be able to charge minors with public inebriation if found with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.02 percent or higher. What’s particularly unique about this act is that minors are allowed to drink in private, but can be subject to BAC tests and fines with probable reason if drunk in public areas.
Indeed, we do sympathize — and often, empathize — with our neighbors who have to suffer through the drunken rowdiness and eloquent conversations students yell at each other at 2 a.m. However, we do have some concerns with this proposed “solution.”
We know that those under the influence of alcohol are not the most functional group of people. If MAPA were to be passed, students may be more encouraged to drive home intoxicated instead of walk home, for fear of getting stopped and having their BAC tested.
A drinking culture is inevitable in a college town. Yes, the act would reduce the number of public disturbances, but does that encourage underage drinking in private settings rather than in public?
The City of Davis is made up of about 33,000 UC Davis students. Approximately 25,000 are undergraduates, meaning the majority of those students are under the age of 21. How will a police officer differentiate between minors and those of legal drinking age? We anticipate awkward moments.
Additionally, minors are not the only ones who create neighborhood disturbances. The act does not formally state what police officers are supposed to do with those of legal drinking age who cause disruptions in the community.
When City Council meets again, we’d like to see more defined criteria and expectations for MAPA, an emphasis on alcohol education in combination with enforcement and better student/community/police relations.
If the police can have our BACs, we’d like to have their backs, too.