The Santa Barbara News Press just picked up the story. The District Attorney's Office has toughened its stand against those under 21 who are arrested for public intoxication by alcohol. For many years the Office offered these same individuals (upon a first offense) the option of taking an alcohol awareness class in order to avoid the criminal conviction and the year-long license suspension. This jibed just fine with state policy given the fact that the state calls for municipalities to install a sobering center whereby such individuals can escape criminal prosecution. See Penal Code section 647(g). Since Isla Vista, the number one most popular spot to get drunk in the County (if not the state), doesn't have a sobering center, the District Attorney's treatment of these cases, non-criminally, seemed an intelligent way to stem the otherwise huge numbers of criminal convictions that would necessarily flow out of Isla Vista. Nevertheless, the District Attorney's Office has chosen to throw out this solution in favor of "getting tough"; hoping to bring about a change in behavior among the larger student population.
The over-arching truth is that most people in this not-so-dry county are not really excited about sitting in judgment of a college-aged kid who got caught drinking. Consequently, even a few "dead-to-rights" guilty minors are going to get acquitted of the offenses at jury trial; not to mention the closer cases. So, more of these cases are being, and will be, tried as the result. This is and will continue to tie up days upon days of court time. And to what productive end?