DUIs increase as semester progresses


Courtesy / mix957gr.com

Adam Trombley, Staff Reporter

The number of criminal incidents on Grand Valley State University’s campuses this year have not been out of the ordinary compared to normal years. This year, however, is no normal year.

The Grand Valley Police Department (GVPD), on top of enforcing COVID-19 regulations, has arrested six drunk drivers on campus over the first seven weeks of the school year. With one arrest taking place every week, the GVPD is urging the GVSU community to not put themselves and others at risk by getting behind the wheel after drinking alcohol.

“You can’t drive after you’ve been drinking, especially under the age of 21,” said GVPD Capt. Jeffrey Stoll. “It’s too dangerous. You’re putting the whole public at risk by doing that.”

Of the seven individuals arrested over the past seven weeks of school, six of them were under the age of 21. It is clear that not all of the individuals arrested were part of the GVSU community, but the six arrested all faced unauthorized blood alcohol levels and operating while intoxicated charges. Up to this point, there has been no accidents connected to drinking and driving this year.

“If you are over a .08 (blood alcohol content), it does not matter what your age is — it’s handled the same way,” Stoll said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re 18 or 51 — if you’re over .08 it’s the same charge. The biggest difference is if you are under 21, obviously you’re not able to have any alcohol in your system.”

Drunk driving is one of the leading causes for deaths among teens in the United States, and even though there has been no crashes caused by driving under the influence, Stoll urges students to have a plan before they go drinking and to take advantage of the services offered around GVSU’s campuses.

He said things like taking the bus, getting driven by friends and using the paid ride share program can help keep people safe around the GVSU community.

“If you drink at all, you need to be very specific and deliberate in your choices of what you’re going to do after that,” Stoll said. “For students, they may feel like it’s a short trip, it doesn’t matter how short it is because that whole time you’re putting other drivers at risk.”

The highest blood alcohol level Stoll has seen was a .29, but most of the times when he pulls people over, the numbers are in the low teens. The legal limit in Michigan is a .08, but a person can still be arrested with a number lower than that if the officer believes that the individual is too impaired to drive. If you blow over a .08 or are arrested for being too impaired, there is a major penalty for it.

“You have to appear in court in front of a judge,” Stoll said. “Sentencing is in the ballpark of $1,000-$1,500 in court costs, fines and fees. Also, (there is) the likelihood of a probationary period on top of that.”

Stoll said many of the people he pulls over are often surprised at their blood alcohol level and a main reason could be that people are not fully aware of their limit or tolerance while drinking. While the cases of driving under the influence cases has been steady throughout the first seven weeks of the semester, GVPD hopes that the individuals make better choices when it comes to drinking and driving.