Boulder Municipal Court is changing the remedial protocol for people 18 to 20 who are charged with a minor in possession of alcohol offense.
Currently the Boulder County Court handles MIP offenses and sends offenders to an alcohol remedial class depending on the number of MIP charges they have. The new changes put the Boulder Municipal Court in charge of MIP offenders. The Municipal Court will screen each MIP offender for an individual treatment sentence. The changes should go into effect January, according to the Boulder PD.
Boulder Municipal Court Judge Linda Cooke spearheaded the changes to MIP protocol. Cooke said she thinks it’s going to be beneficial to students to be matched with the level of treatment they need.
“It’s not necessarily that the treatment options are going to change dramatically,” Cooke said. “We are going to be using a screen. It’s a short questionnaire people answer and based on that we’ll determine what (is) the appropriate treatment.”
Currently, people who get three or more MIPs are given individual evaluations for treatment. This new policy would expand that to first- and second-time MIP charges.
“What we’re trying to do is move individualization of treatment back to the second and first offenses as well, and not just the third one,” she said. “If you are a person who gets your first MIP, so you happen to be drinking under the age of 21 but otherwise you’re pretty responsible with your use of alcohol…you will get treatment based on that responsible behavior.”
The number of MIPs in Boulder is high compared to other cities, said assistant administrator David Ritchie at the Boulder police records office. He said 387 MIPs were reported during the spring 2010 semester alone.
“I think it’s very common that people are getting underage drinking tickets based on the numbers I’ve seen,” Cooke said.
Cooke said an estimated 70 percent of MIP offenders in Boulder are CU students.
Students say they’ve seen lots of kids get MIPs already.
“I know a girl that got an MIP on the first night [of the semester],” said Henry Resing, an 18-year-old freshman religious studies major. “I’ve heard a lot of people talk about getting MIPs…in the dorms.”
Wardenburg Health Center offers the current alcohol remedial class for CU students charged with MIPs. Ryan Wendling, an administrative assistant at Wardenburg, said roughly 1,200 students took the MIP remedial class at Wardenburg last year.
While Cooke said she thinks the new policy will be beneficial, some students are skeptical.
“I think it’s more effective to get scared straight in a class with [repeat offenders],” said Zach Linzer, an 18-year-old freshman film studies major. “That kind of makes sense.”
Resing said he agreed, adding the policy doesn’t do anything to help prevent kids from getting MIPs in the first place.
“I don’t think it’ll make people more careful,” Resing said.
Cooke said she got the idea to change the protocol for MIP remedial programs from reading surveys done by CU students and Boulder residents 18 to 20 conducted a few years ago.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Julie Ryan at Ryanja@colorado.edu.
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