The Legal Guide To Tailgating

September 7, 2010

The air is crisp, the teams are pumped, and the alumni are hungry. College football season has finally arrived, and it’s time to tailgate!

Image by Chris Breeze via Flickr

But before you fire up the grill, break down the opponent, and crack open a cold one, you should understand both Kentucky law and your university’s rules regarding tailgating.

First and foremost, possession and consumption of alcohol by anyone under the age of 21 is illegal. This is a primary concern of security personnel, and most enforce the law aggressively. Obviously, the best approach is to refrain from drinking if you’re not 21, and to not provide alcohol to minors.

And, just because you’ve reached the legal drinking age, you don’t have the right to drink too much. Most universities have a “zero tolerance” policy for public intoxication or any other abusive or disruptive behavior. At best, you’ll be expelled from the grounds and, at worst, you’ll be arrested.

Other laws and university policies that responsible tailgaters should observe include:

  • Tailgate in designated tailgating areas (which you may have to reserve and/or pay a fee for).
  • Tailgating in your vehicle space, and only use one space for your vehicle.
  • Kegs and glass bottles are typically prohibited on college campuses, so pour your beverages into plastic or paper cups.
  • Don’t carry open containers around the stadium parking area.
  • Make sure you actually attend the game (most designated areas are closed prior to the game).
  • Be sure to properly dispose of all your trash, and store all your supplies before entering the stadium.
  • Open flame fires (including fire pits) are usually prohibited in stadium parking lots. Propane and charcoal grills are often permitted, as long you extinguish and properly dispose of hot coals.
  • Cooperate with all security personnel, and be respectful of other attendees (especially the opposing team’s fans).
  • If anyone in your group has consumed too much alcohol, make sure they don’t drive home. Designate a sober driver, and stick to your game plan.

Obviously, there may be different policies, rules and laws applicable to the area, school, city or county where you are tailgating. The best policy is to find a uniformed security officer associated with the event and ask what is permissible and what isn’t before you tailgate.

Tailgating is a national time-honored tradition for alumni and other loyal fans. The key is plan properly, show respect for others and follow a few “common sense” rules.

Do these things and you’ll have reason to celebrate, regardless of the outcome of the game.

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