State Laws

The State of Ohio Law prohibits:

  • Persons under 21 years old from consuming, purchasing, or possessing alcoholic beverages
  • Giving or selling alcoholic beverages to persons under 21 years old
  • Having an open container of alcoholic beverage in a public place, regardless of your age. Public laces are those which anyone can enter freely and include sidewalks, streets, tree lawns, some outdoor areas of apartment complexes, and inside parked or moving cars.
  • Using false identification to obtain alcoholic beverages
  • Allowing underage persons to consume alcoholic beverages on your property
  • Punishment for these first-degree misdemeanors can be up to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.

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 he/she decides 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 he/she furnishes alcohol to a person who is not 21 years of age. Keep in mind that the bigger your party is, 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 his/her valid operator's license suspended for three years.

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

In Ohio, a person may not operate a motor vehicle if he/she is 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 both. Additionally, the operator must forfeit his/her 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 OSU community. Students charged with a DUI may result in a suspension.

Open Container

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 in such a manner as to violate the peace and quiet of the neighborhood or to be detrimental to the life and health of any individual.

Other pertinent state and local laws

Offenses Against the Public Peace

(Section 2917 of the Ohio Revised Code)
Several crimes associated with out-of-control parties fall under Section 2917, including:

  • Failure to disperse When police order persons to leave public property, they must do so. When an order to disperse (also called "reading the riot act") is given, you should immediately begin walking out of the area or go inside a building and shut the door. Before 2004, police could only cite (give a ticket to), not arrest, someone who failed to obey an order to disperse. A recent revision in the law makes a failure to disperse in situations such as campus area riots an offense for which you can be arrested and jailed.
  • Misconduct at an emergency This means hampering police officers, firefighters, em
  • Rioting and Aggravated Rioting Rioting is defined as five or more persons engaged in disorderly conduct. It is considered "aggravated" if violence is involved. You risk being charged with rioting if you are part of a crowd at a riot situation.
  • ergency medical personnel, and other public officials while they are doing their jobs. You must obey all lawful orders given by such persons at an emergency site.

Change in law increases penalties for college students

Students at public universities in Ohio who are found guilty of any of the above five crimes will lose all state-funded financial aid for two years. Those found guilty of rioting and aggravated rioting must be dismissed from their university and are not permitted to enroll in any state-supported institution of higher education for one year. All of the above are arrestable offenses and can be punished with jail time as well as fines. Aggravated rioting is a felony.

Arson/vandalism/criminal damaging/criminal mischief/interfering with public safety

Among other things, it is illegal to:

  • Set fires that might endanger others or their property
  • Damage property belonging to others
  • Prevent or hamper police, fire or EMS personnel from doing their jobs

See sections 2909.01-07 of the Ohio Revised Code.


You may not deposit cups, cans, or other waste on public property.
Columbus City Code Section 1305.03


The exact legal wording can be found in the Ohio Revised CodeSections 4301.63.2, 4301.63.3, 4301.63.4, 4301.69