Notifications and Updates
BIG RAPIDS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY
GUIDELINES FOR SAFE AND LEGAL SOCIAL EVENTS
HOSTING A PARTY:
FOLLOW THE RULES AND AVOID THE HASSLES
The City of Big Rapids and the State of Michigan have several ordinances and laws that apply to parties. By being aware of these rules and following them, you can insure that while having a good time, you stay out of trouble. The most important law to be aware of is the State Law governing alcohol sales. This law makes it a Felony to sell alcohol without a license.
- The law considers any exchange of money to be selling, so any of the following arrangements are illegal:
- Charging a cover charge at the door and allowing those entering to drink alcohol provided at the party.
- Charging a cover charge at the door and allowing those entering to drink alcohol they bring with them.
- Selling advance tickets and doing the same things listed above.
- Taking "donations" for the alcohol from those who come to your party.
The only legal way you can have alcohol at your party is to provide it to your guests at no charge or let them bring their own and not charge them for attending. You should also be aware that if you provide alcohol to your guests you may be liable if they become intoxicated and are later injured or involved in an accident. It is a misdemeanor to provide alcohol to persons under the age of 21 or to allow them to drink alcohol on your premises.
The City has three ordinances that are primarily aimed at house parties:
- It is a civil infraction to disturb the peace and quiet of the neighborhood. This usually involves the stereo being too loud. The rule of thumb to follow here is if the stereo can be heard from the sidewalk, it is too loud.
- The Nuisance Party Ordinance makes it a misdemeanor to host a party, which is defined as a gathering of two or more people, that involves any one of several things, including public drinking, public urination, littering, obstructing traffic, conduct causing injury, endangering the safety of the neighborhood, indecent conduct, or disturbing the neighborhood peace and quiet.
- The Nuisance Padlock Ordinance gives the City the authority to padlock a house that has three or more nuisance parties in a nine-month period. The ordinance does not require tickets to be issued each time to create a violation of the ordinance. Violating this ordinance could result in you being evicted and still being held responsible for the remaining rent.
The best way to stay out of this situation is to keep the number of people attending your party manageable and if you see any of your guests behaving inappropriately let them know. If necessary, ask them to leave. Should the police be called to your party, you can make the situation a lot easier for everyone if you follow these guidelines:
- Keep in mind that the officer is usually there to answer the concerns of a neighbor who has complained that the party is disturbing the peace or is violating some law or ordinance. The have a duty to respond and address the situation to see if there is a violation. Officers will also be proactive if they see violations and make contact before an official complaint is made. Working with the Officer may save you grief later on.
- If you are the host of the party, immediately identify yourself to the officer and tell the officer it is your party. Don't play games. It will only force the officer to take enforcement action. Refusing to come to the door when an officer knocks will not prevent the issuance of a ticket. It will only complicate the process and likely make things worse.
- Be cooperative in trying to correct whatever the problem is. Becoming a "curb side lawyer" helps no one. Remember, the officer is only trying to handle the complaint and the easier that is done, the better it will be for you and your party.
- Remember, it is your party and you are responsible. You may get ticketed, or arrested, if enforcement action needs to be taken. It is to your advantage to keep the party under control right from the start and avoid having the police show up at all.
If you have any questions feel free to contact the big Rapids Department of Public Safety at (231)527-0005 or a general contact on this page
A social gathering or party conducted on any premises within the City and which, by reason of the conduct of those persons in attendance, results in any one or more of the following conditions or events occurring on the premises or neighboring public or private property:
(1) The unlawful sale, furnishing,
possession, or consumption of alcoholic beverages;
(2) Urination or defecation on neighboring public or private property, or on the premises in view of another person;
(3) Unlawful deposit of trash or litter;
(4) Destruction of property;
(5) Unlawful vehicular traffic, or the unlawful standing or parking of vehicles which obstructs the free flow of traffic or interferes with the ability to render emergency services;
(6) Unlawful parking of vehicles within the public streets, alleys, or sidewalks, or upon private property;
(7) Excessive, unnecessary or unusually loud noise which disturbs the comfort, quiet or repose of one or more members of the neighborhood, including public disturbances, brawls, fights or quarrels;
(8) Conduct or a condition which injures any person;
(9) Conduct or a condition which endangers the safety of persons or property in the neighborhood;
(10) Conduct or a condition which results in the indecent exposure of a person, or the display of graphic sexual behavior, whether real or simulated, to a member of the public not attending the social gathering or party;
(11) Unlawful sale, furnishing, manufacture,
use, or possession of a controlled substance as
defined by federal or state law.
('88 Code, Title IX, Ch. 109, § 9.60) (Ord. 210-8-85, passed 8-19-85; Am. Ord. 436-8-98, passed 8-3-98) §
130.16 NUISANCE PARTY PROHIBITED:
Any owner, occupant, tenant, guests or person otherwise having any possessory control, individually or jointly , of any premises who either sponsors, conducts, hosts, invites, or permits a social gathering or party which is or during the course thereof becomes a nuisance party which is either the intentional result of or within the reasonable expectations of the person or persons having such possessory control is hereby deemed to have committed a violation of this code, and upon conviction shall be subject to the penalties as provided by § 130.99. In any prosecution for aviolation of this section or the section prohibiting persons from attending nuisance parties, proof of specific intent shall not be required as a necessary element, but proof of general criminal intent shall be a necessary element. The penalty for a subsequent violaiton of this section is set forth in § 130.99. ('88 Code, Title IX, Ch. 109, § 9.61) (Ord. 210-8-85, passed 8-19-85; Am. Ord. 436-8-98, passed 8-3-98) Penalty, see § 130.99 Cross-reference: Breach of peace offenses, see § 130.04 § 130.17
PERSONS IN ATTENDANCE AT NUISANCE PARTIES:
Any person knowingly in attendance at a nuisance party as defined by § 130.15, whether or not such person has any possessory control over the premises, shall be deemed to have committed a violation of this section and upon conviction shall be punished as provided in § 130.99(B). "Knowingly" shall require as an element of proof that the person knew or had clear reason to know of the actual existence of one or more of the conditions or events listed in the definition of a nuisance party. (Ord. 322-4-93, passed 4-19-93; Am. Ord. 436-8-98, passed 8-3-98) Penalty, see § 130.99