The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Urban Alcohol Legends Explored by UMW Student

2 min read

Staff Writer

Everyone has heard of an urban legend. An urban legend is a rumor that has some element of truth and sounds completely plausible.
Different environments have different urban legends, and college environments have special urban alcohol legends.

The two most common urban alcohol legends told at Mary Washington are that you can drink in a car if you are not driving, and that the police have a Party Patrol Division. I went out and found the answers for you.

The first legend, that passengers in a car can drink alcoholic beverages if the driver is sober since there is no law prohibiting it, is false.

You cannot drink as a passenger in a car. However, there is no law against it.

Although there is not a law explicitly stating passengers in a vehicle cannot consume alcoholic beverages, Philip Bogenburger, the public relations specialist for the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Companies, wrote in an e-mail that “if an officer observes a passenger drinking in a vehicle the person could be charged with drinking in public.”

Sergeant Bill Hallam, a 20-year veteran of the Fredericksburg Police Department, clarified the law during an interview. “You can drink [an alcoholic beverage] in your front yard, front porch, any privately owned property. But once you step on the sidewalk and beyond, the city owns that property and you can be charged with drinking in public. That includes driving.”

The second legend, that the Fredericksburg Police Department has a Party Patrol Division specifically to bust Mary Washington students at house parties, is also false.

The main reason that police are called to house parties is because of the noise.

“There is no adversarial relationship; we are not out to get you, and there is not a Party Patrol Division,” said Hallam. “The most common cause for contact with a Mary Washington student party is complaint based.”

House parties grow exponentially as those invited spread the word. More people partying create more noise, which leads to complaining neighbors.

Hallam said that the easiest way to avoid having the police called on a party is that “it’s all about noise control, crowd control and being respectful of your neighbors.”

If the police are constantly being called to a specific address due to complaints, the house can be declared a public nuisance, resulting in fines and possible eviction.

By keeping these facts in mind, you can party safely, without the police busting your party.