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How tailgating can put you at risk

Football season is going strong. Enjoying the festivities is a long-held tradition and almost inescapable part of the Penn State experience. Despite that, tailgating is one of the easiest ways for underage students to get into some serious trouble.

Penn State takes this issue seriously, increasing police presence at games and enforcing drinking laws much more heavily than before. As campuses everywhere follow the lead, your fun could put you at risk in two major ways.

Underage drinking

It is shockingly easy to drink at tailgate parties, even if you are under age. Before you jump on that bandwagon, consider the risks you are taking. The legal definition of intoxication is much stricter for minors. Pennsylvania, for example, has an underage limit of 0.02 percent. Even more threatening, minor in possession laws are strictly enforced. Simply holding an open beverage for someone else is enough for a citation, which comes with a suspension of your driver's license, fines and the potential for jail time and community service. It's a black mark that is easy to avoid.

Driving under the influence

When police crack down on drinking at tailgates, curbing drunk driving is their ultimate goal. DUIs represent a clear danger, killing hundreds of tailgate attendees every year. Being underage and drinking is already a risk, but add driving to that, and you are asking for trouble you don't need. Besides endangering yourself and everyone in the vicinity, you are risking severe penalties if the police stop you. Remember that a low blood alcohol content is enough to secure your guilt, and a conviction will come with mandatory jail time, heavy fines, a loss of your driver's license and a risk of losing scholarships and admissions status at school.

College is about gaining experience and learning to make good decisions. By all means, have fun and enjoy the sports, but be smart. A few hours of excess is hardly worth the months, or even lifetime, of pain that can come from even one mistake.

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