Policies and Regulations

Policies and Regulations

Statement about Disciplinary Sanctions

Students found to be in violation of the laws and policies established pursuant to Title V California Code of Regulations Sections 41301 of these laws or policies may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including expulsion, in addition to any criminal or civil penalties resulting from violating local, state, and/or federal law.  (See Student Conduct  and California State University Executive Order 1098). 

In addition to the sanctions imposed by the university, individuals who have violated state and federal law regarding possession, use, and/or distribution of alcohol and other drugs may be referred by the university to the appropriate authorities for arrest and prosecution. Local, state and federal laws establish severe penalties for violations of drug and alcohol statutes. These sanctions, upon conviction, may range from a fine to life imprisonment.  With possession or distribution of illegal drugs, these sanctions could include the seizure and summary forfeiture of property, including vehicles.  Any person found in a public place to be under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs and unable to care for his/her own safety or interfering with a public way can be charged with disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor offense. The University Police Department will enforce these laws.

University Policies and Regulations

The following sections describe applicable policies and regulations related to the abuse/misuse of alcohol and other drugs.

Sonoma State University Alcoholic Beverages Policy No. 1985-1

The possession, consumption or sale of alcoholic beverages on campus is prohibited unless approved by the President of the University or his/her official designee. https://www.sonoma.edu/policies/alcoholic-beverages

Departments, groups, organizations, or the Person in Charge found to be in violation of the Campus Alcohol Policy may lose the privilege at future events and are subject to university disciplinary action and/or civil penalties for which there is no established maximum.

Sonoma State University Drug-Free Workplace Policy No. 1989-1

It is the goal of Sonoma State University to maintain a drug-free workplace. To that end, and in compliance with the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 (Public Laws 100-440 and 100-690), the University has adopted the following policies (https://www.sonoma.edu/policies/drug-free-workplace):

  1. The unlawful manufacture, distribution, dispensing, possession, or use of controlled substances is prohibited in the workplace.
  2. Employees who violate this prohibition (paragraph 1) are subject to corrective or disciplinary action as deemed appropriate, up to and including termination.
  3. As an on-going condition of employment, employees are required to abide by this prohibition (paragraph 1); and to notify the campus Office of Human Resources of any criminal drug statute conviction they receive for a violation occurring in the workplace. Notification must be provided no later than five days after such a conviction.
  4. If an employee receives such a conviction (paragraph 3), the University shall:
  5. take appropriate personnel action against the employee, up to and including termination and the loss of University-controlled housing; or
  6. require the employee to participate satisfactorily in an approved drug-abuse assistance or rehabilitation program.
  7. The University regularly offers drug-awareness programs and activities for employees, including new-employee orientations, articles in campus publications, training and development courses, and lectures and workshops. In addition, through the Office of Human Resources the University makes available to employees information about drug counseling, rehabilitation, and employee assistance programs.

Smoking and Tobacco-Free Policy

To provide a safe and healthy environment for all of our faculty, staff and students, the university maintains a smoke and tobacco-free environment. https://www.sonoma.edu/policies/smoking-and-tobacco-free-policy

Student Conduct 

Title V of the California Code of Regulations, as it relates to the Standards for Student Conduct, stipulates that students found in violation of the Alcohol Policy are subject to expulsion, suspension, probation or a lesser sanction as determined by the disciplinary hearing process. The code governing student conduct may be found on the Office of Student Conduct website.

On-Campus Housing 

Alcohol use for students living in the residential community is governed by the “Campus Housing Regulations & Guidelines,” and vary based upon the age of the student and the terms of the community where alcohol may be consumed. The full text of these regulations can be found at http://housing.sonoma.edu/resources/policies. The Campus Housing Regulations & Guidelines specifically as they relate to alcohol are included below. The following regulations are in support of a safe environment in regards to alcohol use within the Residential Community:

  • If you are under the age of 21, you or your guest(s) may not possess alcohol in the Residential Community. No alcohol or alcohol containers are allowed in any apartment/suite designated as an under-21-year-old apartment/suite (no resident living in the space is 21+), even by guests over the age of 21.
  • If you are over 21, you may possess alcohol in your apartment. There should be no more than one drink serving open at any time per person of legal age.  Alcohol should not be seen from outside of the apartment.

The following are considered alcohol violations of the SSU Residential Education and Campus Housing (REACH) Regulations:

  • Alcohol possession, consumption, or distribution that contributes to a potential high risk situation. A high-risk situation is defined as any action, behavior, or conduct which poses detrimental consequence to an individual, community member, or University property as a result of alcohol.
  • Possession of mass consumption or common source containers or devices such as kegs, beer bongs or funnels.
  • Students under 21 may not possess or consume alcohol in the Residential Community.
  • Possession of empty alcohol containers including collector’s items.
  • Hosting, contributing to, or presence at, a gathering in the Residential Community where alcohol violations occur.
  • Using/possessing alcohol in any public area including outside, common areas, balconies, patios, stairwells and residential parking lots.
  • Displaying items that can be viewed from outside that promote or advertise alcohol.
  • Providing alcohol to a person under 21.
  • Unable to care for self or others as a result of alcohol consumption.
  • Exceeding the number of allowable containers for those 21 or older.
  • Participating in drinking games, simulated drinking games, or possession of drinking game equipment/paraphernalia.

SSU Employees 

When problems arise due to alcohol and other drug use and abuse, the university’s goal is to provide employees, whenever possible, with options for assessment, recommendations, counseling, referrals and/or treatment. If a faculty or staff member violates university policy, the individual may be subject to university disciplinary sanctions up to and including dismissal, in addition to federal, state and municipal legal action and penalties. Thus, self-referral and early detection and referral are critical to the rehabilitation of employees.

California Law

The following summarizes some of the California state laws regarding drugs and alcohol that may be relevant to students and employees.

Controlled Substances

  • California penalties for offenses involving controlled substances include those set forth in the California Health & Safety Code § 11350: Imprisonment in the county jail or state prison, a fine not to exceed $70, or probation with fine for felony convictions of at least$1,000 for the first offense and at least $2,000 for second or subsequent offenses or community service for unlawful possession of controlled substances. (HS § 11350)
  • Under California law, possession of certain controlled substances (Schedule I, II, and III) for sale or purchasing for the purpose of sale are punishable by imprisonment of two, three, or four years. (HS §§ 11054, 11055, 11056 & 11351)
  • Penalties are more severe for offenses involving heroin, cocaine, cocaine base, or any analog of these substances and occurring upon the grounds of, or within, a church or synagogue, a playground, a public or private youth center, a child day care facility, or a public swimming pool, during hours in which the facility is open for business, classes, or school-related programs, or at any time when minors are using the facility. (HS § 11353.1)
  • It is unlawful to possess any device, contrivance, instrument, or paraphernalia used for unlawfully injecting or smoking certain controlled substances. (HS § 11364)
  • Personal property may be subject to forfeiture if it contains drugs or was used in a drug manufacture, distribution, dispensation or acquired in violation of this division. (HS § 11470)
  • The California Legislature declares that the dispensing and furnishing of prescription drugs, controlled substances and dangerous drugs or dangerous devices without a license poses a significant threat to the health, safety and welfare of all persons residing in the state and shall be guilty of a crime. (HS § 11352.1)


  • It is illegal for persons under the age of 21 to possess an alcoholic beverage in any public place or any place open to the public. Sanctions range from a fine of $250-$500 and community service, depending on whether the offense is a first or subsequent violation.(BP § 25662)
  • Any person who furnishes, gives or sells any alcoholic beverage to someone under the age of 21 is guilty of a misdemeanor. Potential sanctions include fines of $250 or higher, community service, and imprisonment, depending on the facts of the case. (BP § 25658)
  • Any person under the influence of alcohol in a public place and unable to exercise care for one’s own safety or that of others is guilty of a misdemeanor. (PC § 647 (f))
  • It is illegal for persons to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or other intoxicants or with a blood alcohol level of .08% or higher. (CVC § 23152)
  • It is a misdemeanor to ride a bicycle upon a highway under the influence of alcohol, drugs or both. (CVC § 21200.5)
  • It is an infraction to possess an open container of an alcoholic beverage while in a motor vehicle. (CVC § 23223)
  • It is an infraction for an owner or driver of a motor vehicle to allow an open container of alcohol in the passenger area. (CVC § 23225)

Driving Under the Influence

  • First conviction: Imprisonment in the county jail for not less than 96 hours, at least 48 hours which are continuous, nor more than six months and by a fine of not less than $390 nor more than $1,000 and except as otherwise provided suspension of privilege to operate a motor vehicle. (CVC § 23536)
  • Conviction of driving under the influence with or without bodily injury within ten years of certain other felony convictions including vehicular manslaughter and driving under the influence: Imprisonment in state prison or in the county jail for not more than one year and a fine of not less than $390 nor more than $1,000 and revocation of privilege to operate a motor vehicle. (CVC § 23550.5)
  • Driving under the influence causing bodily injury: Imprisonment in state prison or county jail for not less than 90 days nor more than one year and a fine of not less than $390 nor more than $1,000 and suspension of privilege to operate a motor vehicle. (CVC § 23554)
  • Driving under the influence causing bodily injury or death to more than one victim: Enhancement of one year in state prison for each additional injured victim up to a maximum of three one-year enhancements. (CVC §23558)
  • Second conviction of driving under the influence causing bodily injury within ten years or conviction within ten years of separate conviction of other specified offenses involving alcohol or drugs: Imprisonment in the county jail for not less than 120 days nor more than one year and a fine of not less than $390 nor more than $5,000 and revocation of privilege to operate a motor vehicle. (CVC § 23560)

Federal Law

Federal law prohibits the illegal possession of a controlled substance (21 U.S. C §844(a)).

  • First offense: prison sentences up to one year and a minimum fine of $1,000.
  • Second offense: prison sentences up to two years and a minimum fine of $2,500.
  • Third offense: prison sentences up to three years and a minimum fine of $5,000.
  • Special sentencing provisions apply for possession of flunitrazepam, including imprisonment of three years as well as the fine schedule referenced above