UTPD Police Chief David Carter joined a group of local law enforcement officials in a press conference Wednesday to caution students about alcohol abuse in preparation for spring break.
Carter said while underage drinking is not condoned, UTPD recognizes the commonality of drinking among college students.
“Clearly our preference, if you’re under the age of 21, is that you don’t drink because it’s illegal to do so,” Carter said. “However, we do understand the majority of college students actually do from time to time drink, and many of those students are actually underage.”
According to Carter, heavy alcohol consumption can lead to sexual assault.
“One in five college women are sexually assaulted, and the vast majority of those cases actually involve alcohol,” Carter said. “Go with friends. Have a plan before you go out.”
Carter also encouraged students to call 911 in alcohol-related medical emergencies, even if the students involved are underage.
“If you find one of your friends who is in medical distress, even if you’re underage, we need you to call 911,” Carter said. “Understand that you will not receive an alcohol citation or violation if you’re actually trying to help your friend out.”
Doug Shupe, a public affairs specialist for AAA, an auto club membership organization that offers roadside assistance, warned against riding with drunk drivers as well as drunk driving.
“Drinking and driving is never safe,” Shupe said. “The decision you make to never drink and drive and never get into a car trapped with someone who’s drunk is one of the most crucial decisions you will ever make in your lifetime, and that’s because you will live to talk about it.”
Shupe said preventing DWI incidents is a shared responsibility.
“DWI affects everyone here in Texas. It affects pedestrians, bicyclists, drivers and runners,” Shupe said. “Because we are still losing lives as a result of DWI, there is clearly a continuing need to talk about this.”