Office of Student Life

Student Wellness Center

Rights and Responsibilities

When you make the choice to consume alcohol or drugs, you should consider the consequences of that decision and how being under the influence may impact other decisions you may make that night. It’s important to know what your rights and responsibilities are as a student so that you can choose to Party Smart. Understanding your rights, responsibilities and policies around substance use and student behavior will help you make the best decision for yourself and avoid unwanted negative consequences associated with substance use.  

Underage consumption, purchasing or possession of alcohol: 

The legal drinking age in Ohio for consumption of an alcoholic beverage is 21. Purchasing, possessing or consuming alcohol prior to your 21st birthday is a first-degree misdemeanor. The maximum penalties associated with this offense are six months imprisonment or a $1,000 fine or both. A 20-year-old student, therefore, risks being imprisoned and fined when they decide to drink alcohol at a party or elsewhere. 

Providing alcohol to an underage person: 

A person who furnishes alcohol to an underage person is guilty of a first-degree misdemeanor. The maximum penalty associated with this offense is six months imprisonment or $1,000 fine or both. A social host, therefore, risks being fined and imprisoned when they furnish alcohol to a person who is not 21 years of age. Keep in mind that the bigger your party, the more people there that you don't know, the greater the chance of getting caught and/or charged. 

Fake ID: 

Possession or display of a fictitious operator's license is a first-degree misdemeanor. The offense includes mere possession of a fictitious license or display of someone else's valid operator's license. The maximum penalties for this offense are six months imprisonment or a $1,000 fine or both. Moreover, if the fictitious operator's license is utilized to purchase alcohol or enter an establishment that serves alcohol, the minimum fine must be at least $250 and the person displaying the fictitious operator's license may have their valid operator's license suspended for two years. 

Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs (OVI): 

In Ohio, a person may not operate a motor vehicle if they are impaired by alcohol and/or drugs. The maximum penalty for operating a vehicle while under the influence is six months imprisonment (mandatory at least three days in jail) or a $1,000 fine (a mandatory minimum fine of $250 or three-day alcohol treatment program) or both. Additionally, the operator must forfeit their driving privileges for six months. Driving under the influence is treated very seriously at Ohio State. Driving under the influence not only risks the safety of the driver, but it also risks the safety of the Ohio State community. Any student involved in a DUI/OVI may be subject to university disciplinary action under the Code of Student Conduct, including the possibility of suspension or dismissal from the university. If a police officer has sufficient evidence to believe that a person operated a vehicle while impaired and that person either refuses to take a test to detect the presence of alcohol or drugs or tests above the legal limit (.08% BAC for alcohol), the officer can take that person's driver's license on the spot and the suspension begins immediately.  

Open Container: 

Unless explicitly stated, it is illegal to possess in public an open container of an alcoholic beverage. Conviction of this offense carries a maximum penalty of a $150 fine. Consumption of alcohol in a motor vehicle is a fourth-degree misdemeanor with maximum penalties of 30 days imprisonment or a $250 fine or both. 

Disorderly Conduct: 

Disorderly conduct while intoxicated is a minor misdemeanor and carries a maximum penalty of a $150 fine. Disorderly conduct can be elevated to a fourth-degree misdemeanor (for example, if the person persists after a request to desist). Disorderly conduct occurs when one recklessly causes inconvenience, annoyance or alarm to another due to offensive conduct. Disorderly conduct also occurs when one makes unreasonable noise or engages in conduct that is detrimental to the life and health of any individual. 


State and local laws prohibit depositing cups, cans or other waste on public property. Violators are guilty of a third-degree misdemeanor carrying a maximum penalty of a $500 fine and up to 60 days in jail. 

Prevent or hamper police, fire or EMS personnel from doing their jobs: 

The Columbus City Code prohibits misconduct at an emergency. This means hampering police officers, firefighters, emergency medical personnel and other public officials while they are doing their jobs at the scene of a fire, accident, riot or emergency of any kind. You must obey all lawful orders given by such persons at an emergency site. Misconduct at an emergency is a fourth-degree misdemeanor carrying a maximum penalty of a $250 fine and up to 30 days in jail. 

Rioting and Aggravated Rioting: 

Rioting is defined as four or more persons engaged in disorderly conduct and it is "aggravated" if those involved commit or act with the purpose to commit a felony or an act of violence. Aggravated Riot also includes situations where those involved are carrying weapons. Aggravated Riot is a felony and Riot is a first-degree misdemeanor. Under a law passed in 2003, if you are convicted of rioting or aggravated rioting, you will be immediately expelled for one year from all state-supported colleges in Ohio and will be ineligible for state financial aid for two years. 

Order to Disperse/Riot Act: 

You must immediately disperse (leave the area) when ordered to do so by police in a riot or other emergency situation. You must follow the orders of police and leave the area. If you fail to obey an order to disperse, you may be arrested, subjected to riot control procedures (such as use of pepper spray) or both. 

If you find yourself in trouble you should contact Student Legal Services. You may have the opportunity to participate in a diversionary program to have the violation removed from your record. If so, you can meet the educational requirement by participating in the Ohio State University Diversion Program (OSUDP). 

OSUDP serves as a learning opportunity and intervention for those who have experienced negative consequences because of alcohol use. Using a blend of both group and online prevention and education, OSUDP provides a personalized, educational intervention for college students that aims to curb risky drinking within our communities. 

To schedule a session, check out the Student Life Student Wellness Center site here