Many University of Georgia students spend the Friday before the annual Georgia/Florida football game in Jacksonville partying on the beach at St. Simons Island. This tradition known as “frat beach” usually involves a lot of underage drinking, but this year Glynn County law enforcement officers say there will be a zero tolerance policy for underage drinking.
While most students are aware of the change in policy, there is confusion on what specifically will be different this year from previous years. Reporter Ellen Cohen spoke with Glynn County Police Chief Matt Doering and provides these guidelines for those planning to attend the event.
- Is there an open container law on the beach if you are 21 or older?
- If you are 21, then you may consume alcohol on the beach as long as it is not in a glass container. Alcohol is prohibited on all other public property in the county.
- What specifically is different about this year than previous years?
- There will be a significant increase in the number of officers present. In the past, the primary purpose of officers at this event was to ensure peace and safety. This year, most of the officers will be looking for violations of the law. There also will not be verbal warnings this year; violators will be cited or arrested immediately.
- When will someone get a citation as opposed to getting arrested?
- If you are only underage drinking, and you don’t lie or run, you will just get a summons to appear in court. If you lie you will go to jail. A false ID is also an offense that will lead to an arrest.
- Has the law changed at all, or is it just being enforced more?
- No laws have changed. Officers are just being more proactive in targeting violations.
- What overall advice is there for students attending the event?
- Don’t drink underage, don’t lie to the officers and don’t litter.
Doering said in the past about 10-20 arrests and 20-40 citations were made each year at this event. That was with far fewer officers than will be present on Oct. 30.
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Everyone under 21, including those who are 21 that will be with underage friends, will skip out on St. Simons this year. It is simply not worth the cost to rent a condo, get a costume, and risk getting arrested. By issuing this threat, the police have essentially killed the festivities.
The unintended result is that condo and hotel prices at St. Simons for that weekend will plummet. Local businesses will see fewer customers as will restaurants and bars. The two main tailgating companies for Ga/Fla may also see reduced demand and turnout for their events. Beach house parties may end up becoming the new norm at St. Simons to avoid intrusive law enforcement.
Jacksonville itself may become the new place to go, unless the residents of St. Simons vote against the strict enforcement.
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