University Police offering shuttle services to drunk students

Published 8:58 am Tuesday, March 5, 2024

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By Tyler Steele

Tyler Steele is a Troy University student and intern at The Messenger.

After a long day of lectures, studying, and running around the campus of Troy University, many students like to spend their Friday nights at dinner with their friends. After a few mixed drinks at the bar, many of these students forget to think about who is going to drive at the end of the night.

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For Troy, Alabama residents, this can become a danger to them on the roads. Campus law enforcement are now battling the dangers of drunk driving head-on.

The Troy University Police Department is now offering a taxi service to students wondering how they are going to get home safely. Any drunk student within city limits is able to dial the University Police Non-Emergency number and request a ride back to their residence.

University Police Chief George Beaudry talked to The Messenger about how campus law enforcement came up with this new service for students.

“Early Fall semester we started kicking around several scenarios trying to figure out how to provide a service,” said Chief Beaudry. “We had seen a few recent incidents where we had some DUI arrests on students.”

Troy University is seeing some students choose to sit behind the wheel and endanger themselves and the people around them. Chief Beaudry even recalled a wreck that happened on campus.

“Towards the end of last academic year we had a pretty significant accident on campus,” said Chief Beaudry. “Fortunately, nobody was injured but it was a serious vehicle accident that was DUI related.”

Chief George Beaudry talked about some of the services he has seen throughout other campuses. He stated that he had seen a similar program up North where a school had partnered with taxi services around them.

“We couldn’t really do it the same way they are doing it there,” said Chief Beaudry.

Troy, Alabama does have a cab service, but it stops running at 5 PM. While some students may need a ride at those times, a lot of students are looking for a way home late at night.

“There’s no Uber, there’s no Lyft, there’s no cabs,” said Chief Beaudry. “I know that those bars have those buses, and that’s great, but our students are not always at those bars.”

Chief Beaudry wants to make sure that students who find themselves too intoxicated to drive always have the option to call someone to come get them. Chief Beaudry stated that students should already have a designated driver prepared, but sometimes that’s not the case.

“Life happens,” said Chief Beaudry. “We’re targeting students who may have had one too many and can’t drive home safely.”

While this service is open to all students, there are certain regulations and rules for those who find themselves in this situation. Students must be 21 years of age, the car will not stop between destinations, and students must be “in control of their physical faculties,” per campus law enforcement.

“If they’re sick, vomiting, passing out, things of that nature, we’re going to contact the paramedics,” said Chief Beaudry. “Generally, we’re going to treat that as a medical issue.”

While underage drinking is illegal in the state of Alabama, some students under 21 years of age still end up intoxicated and in need of a ride. University Police are willing to take those students home, but not without punishment.

“It is against the law and University policy to drink under the age of 21,” said Chief Beaudry. “What we have decided to do is we’re not going to pursue any criminal prosecution at all.”

Instead, students’ names will be sent to the Student Services office and students will be issued a punishment through university administration. While there are several different punishments for this policy violation, Chief Beaudry says students are normally required to complete an education program.

“They just sit through a panel and learn the ‘do’s and don’ts’ and the hazards of drinking,” said Chief Beaudry. “Some students think that we’re setting them up to get them in trouble.

“An education program is not trouble,” said Beaudry. “Trouble is us taking you to the county jail and you not making bond.”

Beaudry also said the information helps with identifying “repeat offenders” who may actually have an alcohol related issue.

The Messenger also asked Chief Beaudry about students under the influence of other substances besides alcohol.

“It’s not illegal to be under the influence of marijuana,” said Chief Beaudry. “It’s only illegal to be in possession of marijuana. It’s the same policy as long as you don’t have it on you.”

Troy University Police Department has started offering a service to aid students in getting home safely after a night of partying. With a quick phone call and an address, an on-duty officer will be on the way to shuttle students back to their homes, keeping Troy just a little bit safer.