Apr 102005
 
Authors: Matt Hitt

To begin this week, I'd like to enlist a bit of help from my friend Webster's Dictionary. I'll just flip to the pages … let's see…here it is:

Outrageous: (adj). An action which causes outrage.

Example: When the Fort Collins police ticketed riders on RamRide for underage drinking – that was outrageous.

In case you haven't heard, a police officer did approach a RamRide vehicle and did ticket three of the passengers for underage drinking.

So, we're all a little bit outraged. The point of RamRide is not to deliver easy tickets to the police. Underage people do drink, and usually they call RamRide instead of driving home.

But what kind of message is sent when these three underage drinkers, who made the responsible choice to get on RamRide, get busted?

I'm sure some people will say that they shouldn't have been drinking underage anyways, but get real. This is a college town. This is a big university. While some choose not to, the vast majority of people here do imbibe from time to time, whether they're 21 or not.

Students will drink. That axiom can be put right up next to politicians will lie or Britney Spears will suck or the Rockies will lose.

And RamRide represented intelligent thinking by the Associate Students of CSU and the rest of

CSU. It was an acceptance of the fact that students will drink, and it tried to give those students a safe and viable alternative to drinking and driving.

Safe and viable, that is, until a police officer decided to ticket three of RamRide's patrons.

I know that the police officer in question says he didn't know what RamRide was, but that's no excuse to me. If I'm an officer and I walk up to a car full of drunk people with one coherent person driving, and that driver is wearing a shirt that states "RamRide," I'd think I'd realize what's going there.

You'd think that a police officer would respect the decision to get a designated driver, rather than try to write up three easy minor in possession (MIP) tickets.

I know; the passengers were in violation of the law. And, until our hypocritical government brings the drinking age equal to the voting age, military age and smoking age, that's the way it will be. (But that's another column…)

So I respect the officer and his obligation to uphold the law. And we can't offer RamRide passengers immunity from prosecution just for taking RamRide, but police officers are allowed a certain discretion in giving out tickets, and I wonder why that discretion wasn't exercised.

These students were intoxicated, but they were also intelligent enough to get a safe ride home from a university-sponsored program. Maybe, instead of discouraging people from taking that smart alternative again by writing tickets, the officer could have issued written warnings. The police officer would still have upheld the law, without sending the message to underage students that RamRide is no longer a safe way to get home.

In the long run, I really hope that this incident doesn't keep students from taking RamRide. RamRide is an excellent program and is something we can point to with pride whenever ASCSU's worth is questioned.

But if students are worrying about being ticketed for their smart decision, maybe they won't make that smart choice next time. And maybe, instead of ticketing underage drinkers, the police will have to deal with underage drunk drivers.

Matt Hitt is a sophomore theatre major. His column runs every Monday in the Collegian.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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