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But, I'm 21...

Miami University's Code of Student Conduct ("the Code") requires that a student with two violations for Intoxication (commonly referred to as a "105A violation"), within a two-year period, must be suspended for at least a semester. Most students think that this 2-strike policy doesn't apply to them once they turn 21-because they are now legally allowed to drink alcohol.

Wrong. 

The Code doesn't distinguish between underage intoxication and "of age" intoxication. In short, your age doesn't matter.

Code 105A Intoxication prohibits "intoxication or exhibiting negative behavior associated with intoxication after using alcohol." There is no mention of the student's age in 105A. So whether the student is 18 or 25, it doesn't matter under the Code. Intoxication is intoxication.

The lack of an age requirement under 105A stems from the fact that, in general, it is illegal under Ohio law to be intoxicated in public. Ohio revised code 2917.11(B) states that "no person, while voluntarily intoxicated, shall...

(1) In a public place or in the presence of two or more persons, engage in conduct likely to be offensive or to cause inconvenience, annoyance, or alarm to persons of ordinary sensibilities, which conduct the offender, if the offender were not intoxicated, should know is likely to have that effect on others;"

or

(2) "Engage in conduct or create a condition that presents a risk of physical harm to the offender or another, or to the property of another."

If you engage in behavior that violates R.C. 2917.11(B) while a Miami University student, you can be punished for violating Code 105A, regardless of your age. Even if you don't receive a citation for violating R.C. 2917.11(B), the Office of Ethics and Student Conflict Resolution ("OESCR") can still punish you if they receive a complaint about your behavior.

It's important to note that a responsible finding for intoxication by OESCR doesn't require (1) that proof exists, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you were intoxicated; or that (2) evidence of your blood alcohol content (BAC) be provided. All OESCR hearings are held to a lesser burden of proof than the commonly known standard of "beyond a reasonable doubt" that exists in a court of law. Instead, it must only be shown that "it's more likely than not1" that you were intoxicated or exhibited negative behavior associated with intoxication. Meaning that a specific BAC need not be shown so long as you exhibited negative behavior after consuming alcohol-in other words, OESCR presumes that any bad acts/behavior you had after you drank alcohol was because you were intoxicated and that you don't normally act that way sober.

OESCR evaluates your behavior and consumption levels, not your age, when assessing your responsibility for violating Code 105A. So if you pick up your first Code 105A violation when you are 19 or 20, and your second when you are 21 or 22, the Code mandates that you be suspended for at least one semester.

Because OESCR must still find that "it's more likely than not" that you were intoxicated or exhibited negative behavior associated with intoxication, it's important to talk with an attorney that understands the OESCR process and the Code about the complaint/evidence in your case. Don't assume that you can't be suspended just because you are 21 or over.


1 The law and the Code refer to this standard as "by a preponderance of the evidence." But to avoid confusing legalese, this standard is better understood as "the greater weight of the evidence" or "more likely than not." In short, the proof shows it's at least 50.1% likely that the event occurred.


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