More tips for new adults in the Vail Valley
Vail, CO, Colorado
In the first part of this series, we focused on some of what it means to be 18. Among other things, we looked at matters relating to cars, driving and insurance and the basics of renting your first apartment.
The subject of this column is having fun as well as the rights, duties and obligations of adulthood that weigh upon having fun once you turn 18.
While with the onset of adulthood there arrive many new opportunities for having fun, it’s best to bear in mind that there are legal limits and adult-like consequences. If your parties disturb the peace, a police officer may well come banging at your door. If your frat initiation is overly rambunctious, ritualistic, dangerous or involves the consumption of alcohol by minors, someone could well enjoy the hospitality of the local constabulary. Worse, if someone were to be injured in a frat initiation, serious criminal charges could result.
Some things that might result in police being summoned to break up your unruly party include: fighting, overly loud music or activities, rowdiness, excessive (or underage) alcohol consumption and/or illegal drug use, or partying into the wee hours of the night. If the police show up, they may not only break up the party but, depending upon the circumstances, may make arrests. Too, your landlord might decide to kick you out. On a slightly brighter note, if strangers or uninvited guests “crash” your party, you may summon the police to boot the trespassers out.
There are limits to permissible frat or sorority initiations. “Hazing” ” any method of initiation into a student organization which causes (or is likely to cause) bodily danger, physical harm or personal degradation or disgrace resulting in physical or emotional harm ” is illegal. If you engage in hazing, you could be heavily fined and/or sent to jail. If hazing is going on, the best thing to do is to leave and to report it, anonymously if you must.
Drinking and drugs
Drinking or buying alcoholic beverages under the age of 21 is illegal in most states. Use or possession of any controlled substance without a prescription is also illegal. I’ll leave the health and moral implications to your parents. It is best to learn the law of where you’ll be visiting or living before you hoist a cold one.
If you use a fake or someone else’s identification to purchase alcohol (or gain access to an establishment serving alcohol or to a gaming facility), you will be breaking the law. Additionally, the person who furnished you the fake ID may face his or her own charges. You cannot lend, borrow or alter a driver’s license or other identification in any way.
The kind of trouble you can get into for drug use depends, among other things, upon: the type or class of drug, the quantity in your possession, whether you distribute it to others, and the jurisdiction.
Although still technically illegal, some states have relatively lenient drug laws when it comes to small quantities of marijuana kept for personal use. In most if not all states, possession of harder drugs may subject you to serious felony charges. In addition to criminal charges, if you are convicted of a drug offense, you will not only have a record which will trail you for the rest of your life, but you may also be dismissed from school. Drug possession of even tiny amounts in foreign countries is not insane. In some countries, possession of even minuscule amounts of drugs (even marijuana) could subject you to the death penalty.
Not only is the possession, use and distribution of illegal drugs prohibited, but the use of someone else’s prescription drugs is also illegal. Similarly, the use of controlled body-building drugs (steroids) is illegal. If you are convicted of distribution, you could spend up to five years in prison and pay fines up to $250,000 under federal law.
Eighteen is a joyous age and the beginning of an exciting adventure into adulthood. Treated maturely, new and varied opportunities will open up for you and reward you with a myriad of pleasures. Treated irresponsibly and immaturely, however, the obligations of adulthood that come along with these adventures will smack you down hard. You are an adult now. Act like one and the world is your oyster. Screw up now, and the consequences stick.
In Part Three of this series, money matters.
Rohn K. Robbins is an attorney licensed before the Bars of Colorado and California who practices in the Vail Valley. He is a member of the Colorado State Bar Association Legal Ethics Committee and is a former adjunct professor of law. He may be heard on Wednesday nights at 7:00 p.m. on KZYR radio (97.7 FM) as host of “Community Focus.” Robbins may be reached at 970-926-4461 or at his e-mail address: email@example.com.