How to keep the cops away

How to handle the cops if they knock on your door

How to aviod getting caught for doing illegal things

How to survive party aftermath

How to protect your rights: door signs

View this handbook with Adobe Acrobat Reader

Adobe Pagemaker version of this handbook

If the cops show up, and you don't want them to catch you doing anything illegal, then we recommend that you don't do anything illegal. Here's some ways to avoid common party no-no's.

Serving Alcohol

You aren't allowed to sell alcohol unless you have a liquor license. But, there are many ways you can have a party and include alcohol.

Buy the alcohol yourself, and provide it free of charge to your guests, no questions asked, except age. This means someone should be positioned at the keg or bar checking ID's and making sure you're not going to get your party broken up due to a Minor in Possession (MIP) arrest in association with your party.

Buy the alcohol with others and provide it free of charge, no questions asked, except for age. You can collect money before the purchase and therefore buy the alcohol as a "representative" of the group. For example, have a party consisting of your biology class, or your bowling team. At the gathering previous to the party (class, practice), send around a hat, collecting money for the alcohol. This is perfectly legal.

Buy the alcohol yourself, provide the alcohol for free, but ask for voluntary donations along with age. However, now you're starting to tread on shaky ground. Donation has to be voluntary and look voluntary. You cannot make payment a criterion for drinking. It's best to set up a donation table in a different room, away from the keg or bar.

Checking ID's

If the cops show up, and you're providing alcohol to your guests, you should be able to show that you are checking ID's. If you don't check ID's, and the cops find a drunk minor at your party, then you could get charged for serving alcohol to a minor. Here are two methods of checking ID's.

Check ID's at the door. Set up a stool at the entrance of the party and make sure that minors don't enter your house. This way you have less to worry about as far as who's inside. If you have multiple entrances, set up multiple stools. Use a marking system - a permanent marker or a unique stamp work the best.

Check ID's at the keg. This way, anyone may be at the party, but only those who are over 21 have access to alcohol. Again, use a marking system so that you don't need to check ID's every time someone wants a drink.

Minors in possession

If you're under 21 years old, then you're not allowed to drink alcohol. But, no matter how old you are, or whether you've been drinking, according to Michigan law, cops can ask you to take a breathalyzer test whenever they think that you are a minor who has been drinking. If you are a minor, and you blow anything higher than .02 (which is roughly equivalent to one alcoholic drink) then you get a ticket for MIP.

The ACLU of Michigan believes this is unconstitutional because it allows officers to give breathalyzer tests without warrants to people who are not under arrest. If this happens to you, get free advice about your legal options by contacting the ACLU of Michigan at (313)961-4662 (

You can also get a MIP if you admit to drinking and you look like you've been drinking (slurred speech, poor coordination, etc). You can also get a MIP if you are a minor carrying an open or unopened container of alcohol. Even a seemingly empty container that only has alcohol residue in it counts. And, don't try to outsmart the cops by putting your vodka in a Sprite bottle—they know all the tricks.

Open intoxicants
If you are carrying an open container of alcohol on public property, then you can get ticketed. "Public property" means anything outside your property line. If, after a house party, you fall asleep on the yard with a beer in your hand, and your foot creeps out onto the sidewalk, then you can get an open intoxicant ticket. Cops have been known to lie in wait for these opportunities. Again, even a seemingly empty container that only has alcohol residue in it counts.
Urinating in public

If you gotta go, you gotta go, but you can't urinate in view of the public. If passers-by can see you, then you'll get in trouble even if you're on your property.