Last weekend wasn’t the biggest for just the Auburn Tigers football team. Auburn police made the most arrests for public intoxication and other alcohol-related offenses during any weekend of the 2017 football season.
Twenty-one people were arrested over Iron Bowl weekend for public intoxication or driving under the influence, according to reports from the Auburn Police Division.
“Our community becomes the third or fourth largest population-wise [in Alabama] during those days when we have fans in attendance for the games,” he said.
Register said police prepared for the influx of people coming to town for the Iron Bowl with additional measures and resources.
The division often gets help from outside law enforcement agencies on game days to assist near the stadium. Away from Jordan-Hare, it’s all the Auburn police.
“I think it’s a matter of the numbers,” Register said. “We had more people here for the Georgia and Alabama games than we did for the other games. ... [T]here was just so much more emphasis on those games ... the fans that attended were all obviously very excited, so when we had that many people here it did increase the numbers.”
The weekend the Tigers faced the Georgia Bulldogs, 19 people were arrested for public intoxication, DUI or minor in possession of alcohol, the second most of the season.
For weekends during which the Tigers play at Jordan-Hare, Auburn police arrested, on average, 13 people for public intoxication and other alcohol-related incidents during the 2017 season, almost double the away game weekend average of 6.6 people, according to public records.
“Most of the people we arrest [for public intoxication] are those that are in a dangerous situation,” Register said. “Many times we have people that are passed out — they may be lying in the bushes, lying on the side of the road.
“The typical person that’s walking home to avoid driving, they’re not going to interact with the police.”
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Public intoxication is a general term that encompasses all controlled substances, but in a Southern town built around football, it is mostly related to alcohol consumption.
“I was a prosecutor for 14 years, and from my experience, most of the time it was from alcohol intoxication,” said Kisha Abercrombie, a defense attorney with the Walton Law Firm in Auburn who deals with drug crimes.
People charged with public intoxication for the first time can enter a pretrial diversion program where they will undergo counseling. If they complete the program, they can have their case dismissed.
“Regardless of whether they are convicted or if they go in the program, they would still be paying some sort of court fees and/or fine, usually both,” Abercrombie said.
Perhaps the most famous Auburn public intoxication game day arrest this year was that of former Auburn quarterback Sean White.
White, 21, was one of eight people arrested the weekend of the Mercer game for alcohol-related offenses, seven of which were public intoxication. And while other Auburn University students were arrested that weekend for public intoxication, White’s arrest was the only one that made headlines.
“[White] has made poor decisions that are not in the best interest of our program, and more importantly, himself,” Auburn head football coach Gus Malzahn said in a statement following White’s arrest.