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Six students arrested for underage drinking, OPD resumes bar checks

Oxford Police Department paused bar checks during the pandemic but are now resuming them.
Oxford Police Department paused bar checks during the pandemic but are now resuming them.

Six Miami University students were arrested and several others received citations for underage drinking on Sunday, Sept. 25. 

The Oxford Police Department (OPD) identified the students while conducting bar checks at several Uptown locations, including Brick Street Bar & Grill and Fiesta Charra. 

At Fiesta Charra, officers were conducting a liquor check when “a male was observed to abruptly leave when officers were asking for other patrons ID's” according to the police report. The male was stopped and found to be under the age of 21 and in possession of two fictitious IDs. He was cited and released.

At another bar check at 11 S Main St, an underage female concealed an alcoholic beverage upon seeing officers. The officers stopped the female and cited her for “Underaged Persons Offenses Concerning.” 

Citations for underaged possession of alcohol can include fines of up to $1,000 and jail time of up to six months, although the higher range is generally used for incidents in motor vehicles. 

Lara Fening, an OPD lieutenant, said OPD has been conducting bar checks for decades but paused them during the height of COVID-19 to prioritize officers’ safety.

“I’ve been around for 29 years, and we’ve always done bar checks,” Fening said. “It’s part of our comprehensive plan for alcohol enforcement, always has been.”

Fening said most current students haven’t experienced a pre-COVID-19 Miami, and many were taken aback by the officers’ presence in Uptown’s bars.

“There’s students now that have not really lived through how we’ve always done things prior to COVID,” Fening said. “So they may not have the perspective that other people have had.”

Fening also clarified how officers identify underage drinkers during these bar checks. Actions like concealing beverages or drinking without a wristband are often giveaways.

“If an officer is asking for an ID they have probable cause to be asking for it,” Fening said. “We don’t just go randomly asking people for identification.”

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