With the battle for the Old Oaken Bucket taking place tomorrow down in Bloomington, many of us will be making the trip south to support the Hoosiers and the Boilers. Along with an exciting rivalry game, Bloomington is sure to see tailgate fields teeming with students and alumni. In order to have a fun and safe tailgating experience it’s important to know the laws that might relate to you as you tailgate.

Contrary to popular belief, there is no restriction on openly carrying alcohol in public places in Indiana. You may remember that this supposed law was most recently exposed as myth when Indianapolis hosted the Super Bowl last year. During this time, local bars briefly allowed patrons to carry their alcohol outside. Despite this, however, many people still believe it is illegal in Indiana to carry alcohol around in public.

While an individual can openly carry alcohol in public places, the police can still arrest for public intoxication. Indiana’s public intoxication laws were reformed, and somewhat relaxed, last year. Now it is only illegal to be intoxicated in public if the intoxicated person is: endangering his life, endangering another individual’s life, breaching the peace or is in imminent danger of breaching the peace, or harassing, annoying, or alarming another individual. These laws clearly leave room for police officer discretion, but they also give much-needed clarification on what behavior is and is not allowed.

So you’re stopped by a police officer, what are your rights? Know that anyone claiming to be a police officer is required to present a badge if requested. Once the officer presents his badge, an individual must present identification or reveal his name if the officer asks. Pedestrians and passengers in cars can usually refuse to take a breathalyzer test or to be searched unless the police officer has a warrant. Additionally, an individual has no obligation to answer an officer’s questions, and the police officer may not hold you indefinitely unless you are being arrested. If a police officer persists indefinitely with questioning or detaining you, ask if you are being arrested. If the officer responds that you are not being arrested, you may receive permission to go.

In any situation where alcohol is present, it is important to be responsible and follow the law. Make sure you know your rights and obligations when tailgating this weekend, and in the future, to ensure a fun and safe experience.

 

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