Originally created 02/22/06

Alcohol arrests at UGA double figure from '05



ATHENS, Ga. - University of Georgia police this year have made twice the number of alcohol-related arrests than they did during the same period in 2005.

As of Feb. 19, 78 people have been charged with DUI, underage possession of alcohol and public drunkenness, UGA police records show.

Between Jan. 1 and Feb. 19, 2005, campus police officers arrested 41 for those same offenses, including underage drinkers who were cited, but not taken immediately to jail.

UGA Police Chief Jimmy Williamson said his department isn't doing anything differently that would result in more alcohol-related arrests, although in December he announced to the UGA student body that UGA police officers would do several things differently in enforcing alcohol laws, including conducting DUI road checks.

"There is no proactive campaign" to enforce alcohol laws, Mr. Williamson said Monday. "The same thing we were doing last year is the same thing we are doing now."

The police chief said arrest numbers are "subject to change overnight," and that there "are no external factors for those changes," other than a police officer being in the right place to catch a violation or more people calling in alcohol-related complaints.

This past weekend alone, UGA officers arrested 15 people on alcohol-related charges, including six who face underage possession charges after officers came upon one student and five visitors drinking outside Terrell Hall, an administrative building on North Campus.

The Jan. 22 death of UGA freshman Lewis Fish - who died in his Russell Hall dorm room after a night apparently spent drinking and sniffing heroin - sparked renewed concern by student leaders, university administrators and advocates of responsible drinking.

Seven men, including five current or former UGA students, were arrested on drug or alcohol charges as a result of the investigation into Mr. Fish's death.

The first three weeks of 2006, before Mr. Fish's death, UGA police arrested 22 people on alcohol-related charges. During the remaining nine days of that month, they arrested 20 more.

Those numbers do not include the seven charged as a result of the investigation into Mr. Fish's death, since those arrests were in February.

UGA Student Government Association President Will Childs said police checkpoints on roads running through campus might explain the increased number of arrests. "There's been a number of random roadblocks since the first of the year which, in my estimation, could account for a significant difference between the (arrest) numbers this year and last year," Mr. Childs said.

The SGA president said he also has noticed an increase in patrols of university property, but he did not know if UGA officers were on the lookout for intoxicated students.