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At UNC-CH, Drinking Might Be a Trespass

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CHAPEL HILL — College football season has kicked into high gear, amid the hoopla and party atmosphere that the games engender. It also means fans are tailgating before the game starts. This year there's a change at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Police officers usually crack down on college drinking but there's a new policy.

University police say the official policy is you'll get one warning and then if they see you with an open container a second time, you'll be charged with trespassing, a misdemeanor.

Lots of fans like to have a beer or two -- or some other liquor -- before going into the stadium to watch the game.

In the city of Chapel Hill, if you are found drinking alcohol from an open container, you can be charged with public consumption.

Up to this year, you would face the same charges on the UNC campus. But the police reviewed the law and realized that legally you can only be charged with trespassing.

Maj. Jeff McCracken says that's because university property is not city property.

"The university counsel has discussed it with the city attorney and they have determined that we cannot apply the city ordinances on campus. And it clearly states that in the statute, that they only apply to property owned and operated by the city, which the university clearly is not," McCracken said.

Fans, of course, just want to have a beer without being bothered.

"Well, I prefer not even to get a trespassing charge," one fan said.

Another said that if a person is over-age, public consumption is not something one should be worried about.

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Todd Hauer, Reporter
Ron Pittman, Photographer
Kay Miller, Web Editor

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