With over almost 30 years of police, legal and judicial experience, the most important advice I can give you is to avoid alcohol and drugs. That’s it. In the vast majority of Spring Break arrests, alcohol and drugs are THE main contributing factor. No other advice is necessary or is more likely to keep you out of trouble. And, no other advice is more likely to be ignored. So, for those of you who will abstain, good for you. For those who won’t, here are some suggestions on how to stay out of reach of the long arm of the law:
- Drink in moderation.
Pace yourself. Give your body time to metabolize the alcohol in your system before you pile more on. Don’t drink on an empty stomach. Make sure you have food in your stomach to slow the absorption of alcohol and, whatever else you do, avoid shots. In the history of the world, nothing good has ever come from doing shots.
- Select your spring break friends carefully and help them stay under control.
Who you celebrate Spring Break with has a huge impact on your likelihood of enjoying it AND surviving it, so choose carefully. If you happen to be the more rational among your friends, there are several reasons why it is your obligation to do what you can to keep everyone out of trouble. First, you don’t want to be the one telling their family that their arrest, or worse, could have been avoided if you hadn’t just stood by and watched them jump across balconies, or if you had just spoken up. Second, friends behaving badly have a way of getting their friends into trouble, whether by fighting or getting arrested.
- Find a place to go within walking distance of your hotel.
A DUI will mess up your life in ways you can’t even imagine. In addition to all of the mandatory penalties that have been adopted by most states, you face canceled or ridiculously expensive auto insurance, a criminal record with its effect on your social life and employment, no driver’s license for a while, community service hours, DUI classes; and, if God forbid, you get in an accident that results in a death, mandatory prison. Some of the hardest cases I ever handled as a judge were DUI Manslaughters, where otherwise decent people with no prior record were sent to prison for a minimum of six years, and some family lost a loved one forever. So find a place from which you can walk, or stumble, home.
- Don’t live to impress your friends.
This warning is directed more to guys than girls. For some unknown reason, we are capable of the most idiotic and illegal activities with no other purpose than to get our friends to say “Dude! You rock!” Having a story to share with your friends isn’t worth a criminal conviction that may affect your future employment or even get you kicked out of school.
- Stay in the U.S.
When you do something stupid, the last thing you want to see is the inside of a Mexican jail. Other countries don’t afford you the same rights as the United States. In fact, no other country does. So if you’re planning on having a wild time with your friends, stay close to home where help is within reach if things go wrong.