I was Given a Ticket for Under Age Drinking, Is This an Arrest? Can They Inform my College If it Happened Off Campus?

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“I recently was given a minor ticket walking from my parking lot to my apartment, 3 officers stationed in this lot stopped me because I was carrying a bottle. I showed them my id, I am not 21, but i am older then 18, and then took a breathalyzer. After taking a breathalyzer I was then given my ticket and sent on my way. A few weeks later I received a letter at my home address which stated that I had been arrested and given a ticket for underage consumption. On top of that they also stated that they would be informing my university of the minor. My two questions are can they inform the university about things like that that happen off campus and are not campus related, and the second question is, if it states in a letter that I was arrested in theory could I not fight the ticket because I was never read my rights? The letter saying I was arrested is a false statement, so what if any options would one have when it comes to them sending out letters to anyone who gets a minor stating they were arrested?”

[NOTE: Articles and answers on DearEsq., while written and published by lawyers, do not constitute legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship is formed by your reading of this information. You should always consult with an attorney for any legal situations.]

Any time the police stop you and cite you for a violation of the law, it is an arrest. The duration, use of handcuffs, or carting you off to jail, none of those things really matter. In addition, arrest records are a matter of public record, even when they are brief. (How do you think movie star mugshots always end up on TV?) Sending a notice to your home address and to the university might be uncool, but it’s not improper.

You should feel lucky that all you got was a ticket. Given the number of underage drinkers who wind up going to jail and having to be bailed out by friends or family, just be glad that you got to sleep in your own bed that night instead of with a 300 pound meth dealer named Tiny.

If you want to fight it, do it on the grounds that they need to prove the case; it’ll be your word against theirs, and you might get lucky if the officers don’t show up for the court appearance. But you’re going to need even more luck to overcome the poor judgment you used in walking around in public with a bottle. Be a man, take your ticket, and be glad you got off so easy for this dumb mistake that could have been avoided.



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Author: Ray Everett-Church, Esq.

Ray Everett-Church is a privacy and security consultant with PrivacyClue LLC and is co-author of "Internet Privacy for Dummies"