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Hold my beer...Miami University makes substantial changes to alcohol policy - Part One

105A Intoxication and Prohibited Use of Liquor 

As part of its updated 2018-2019 Code of Student Conduct ("Code"), Miami University made significant changes to its alcohol policy. The most noteworthy change is the Code's new distinction between "fermented alcoholic beverages" and "distilled liquors."

Under recent versions of the Code all alcoholic beverages were treated the same. But under the 18-19 Code underage consumption or possession of "distilled liquors" is a higher-level offense than consuming or possessing "fermented alcoholic beverages" underage. 

While the Code doesn't define these new terms, it does provide a list of examples under the 2.1.E. Alcohol 105 section. "Fermented alcoholic beverages" includes "beer, wine, cider, mead or sake." Whereas "distilled liquors" includes "vodka gin, rum, tequila, whiskey, scotch, brandy."

In short, if an underage student admits to or is found to have possessed or consumed a "distilled liquor," then that is treated the same under the Code as if the student was intoxicated. This is a substantial change in policy by Miami. Previously, underage possession or consumption of alcohol, but not intoxication, was a lesser-offense that avoided mandatory suspension for a second violation in two years.

Under the new Code, the following actions are treated the same under 105(A); and, thus are subject to a "two strikes (in two years) and you're out" policy:

  • Intoxication
  • Exhibiting negative behavior associated with intoxication after consuming alcohol
  • Underage possession or consumption of distilled liquor
  • Furnishing distilled liquor to any person under 21
  • Permitting any person under 21 to consume distilled liquor in your residence ("e.g. residence hall room or off-campus residence")

The new 105(A) section is much broader than previous versions. For example, if you were found responsible for intoxication your sophomore year and then when you're 21+ you host a party where "distilled liquor" is consumed by people who are underage, you will be found responsible for violating 105(A) again. If these two events happen within a two-year period, Miami's policies require a minimum sanction of suspension. If the events occur outside a two-year timeframe, Miami's policy is still the same: suspension is discretionary, but not mandatory.

Deciding to simply accept responsibility for 105(A) when there is a valid defense or possibility to have the charge reduced to 105(B) and hoping nothing goes wrong in the next two years could end up in a mandatory suspension. Once a prior violation has been accepted, you cannot go back and challenge it when you receive a second violation.

Even if a student is not criminally charged, and is only subject to Miami disciplinary proceedings, it is crucial to speak with an attorney who is familiar with the Code, Miami's hearing process, and the potential impact on that student's ability to continue as a student at Miami University.

Significant changes were also made to 105(B) which are discussed here

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