"Shit dude, the cops are here!" It's the six words every party going college student hates to hear. And it's a phrase that was no doubt exclaimed by many a plastic cup clutching Western Washington University student in the last three weeks. Bellingham Police, WWU Police and Whatcom County Sheriff's Deputies have been having a heyday busting parties in the city, netting a whopping 120 arrests for everything from minors in possession of alcohol, to furnishing alcohol to minors, disorderly conduct, drinking in public, DUI and obstructing a police officer.
"The reason we do this is we found if we get out there early it sends a strong message that we are ready to enforce the law," he says. "Party goers need to be aware of consequences. We're not done (with the patrols), either."
The arrests broke down like this: 53 for minors in possession of alcohol, 53 for disorderly conduct, eight for drinking alcohol in public, two for obstructing a police officer, three for furnishing alcohol to minors and one DUI.
The tickets handed out are no joke either. Under Washington law, a minor in possession of booze can get a maximum $500 fine, 2 months imprisonment, or both.
Disorderly conduct can land a $1,000 fine, 90 days in jail or both.
First time DUI offenders will spend a minimum of 24 hours in jail, pay $866.50, have their license suspended for 90 days and have a breathalyzer ignition system (blow mobile) installed on their car for a year.
And giving alcohol to someone under 21-years-old can get you locked up for up to an entire year and fined up to $5,000.
Being that stepped up enforcement of party laws has never in the history of college stopped students from drinking and partying, regardless of age or relationship with the neighbors, here's a site with some good tips on keeping the po-po off the guestlist.
Also, it's strongly recommended that party throwers pass up posting details online--especially at Western's student centered "Viking Village" forum, where rumors abound that undercover cops are frequent posters. Plus, even they don't go that far, most cops have now mastered the art of the Google search.