Football season is in full swing, here in Georgia, and soon it might even be cool enough to actually feel like football season. Here in the south, football season means game day gatherings. Whether everyone is meeting at the house with the best TV, gathering for a tailgate party, or meeting at the local sports bar, we cheer, eat, and may drink a little. That is what we do during football season. Enjoy yourself however you choose to take in your favorite game, but keep these things in mind before and after your party.
Falcons Games at The Benz (aka, Mercedes Benz Stadium)
This article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution offers up some very specific advice about tailgate parties at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. As you can imagine, most of these specifics have to do with individual behavior after consuming alcohol. However, there are some specifics that even non-drinkers need to abide by:
- Your car can only take up one space
- Your grill or other tailgating gear must be confined to your parking space
- Tailgating can start as early as 5 hours before kick-off
- You cannot use “fighting words”
Yes, that last one is actually on the books. Everyone wants to have fun at a football game, so it helps to know the specific venue rules where you are tailgating.
How To Tailgate
More of a “best practices” than a legal list, this write up from LifeSafer.com gives some really handy pointers of how to really enjoy a tailgate and still actually enjoy the game. The most useful tip is not buying alcohol once you’re inside the gates of the game.
This tip has two distinct advantages. First, as we all know, a regular beer at a pro football game will dent your wallet for at least $10, if not more, especially if you happen to order one of the “souvenir” cups. Second, if you do all your imbibing at the tailgate party before the game, you have 3-ish hours for the alcohol to leave your system.
However, stopping before the game will not clear out all the alcohol from your system. The legal blood alcohol content (B.A.C.) limit in Georgia is .08, so make sure you choose a designated driver before the game. If it’s your turn, suck it up, and stick to water and soft drinks.
DUI Laws in Georgia
If you find yourself without a sober driver, don’t be tempted to think you can drive intoxicated. You cannot. Knowing the very stiff and very specific penalties for a DUI here in Georgia beforehand is a very healthy reminder that you simply do not want to drink and drive. Here are the basics.
- If a Police Officer determines that you are driving under the influence, you can be arrested for DUI.
- If you are driving, and your blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08 or higher, you can be arrested for DUI, even if you think you are capable.
- If you are convicted of DUI, you will (1) have your driver’s license suspended and (2) have to deal with the criminal aspect of DUI. These are two separate issues, handled by two separate agencies.
- The criminal penalties can include monetary fines, jail time, and public service.
- The Department of Driver Services determines the status of your license.
These are the legal implications of DUI, which are penalties if you are arrested and convicted. These do not include any of the consequences of a DUI conviction, nor the damage to lives and property that can be caused when someone drives under the influence. The bottom line, do not do it. It’s far too easy to take Uber or volunteer to be the designated driver.
College Campus Carry Law
Now, back to those “fighting words”: do not start trouble! Georgia Legislators recently enacted legislation that makes it legal to carry a concealed firearm at a tailgate party. When there’s alcohol, football, and football fans involved, emotions can already run high. You should be aware that some of your party going compatriots may be legally carrying.
There are other specific rules and regulations for every college campus. Here is Georgia Tech’s campus alcohol policy. We encourage you to search for the policy of the campus where you’ll be enjoying your next college football game as well.
To sum it all up, it can be a bit of a downer to have to take all this in before, during, and after your football party. However, the great freedoms we enjoy as football fans here in the South come with some big responsibilities.