College Students Can Face Double Consequences for DUI
Driving under the influence (DUI) is against the law in all 50 states, though some laws refer to the offense as operating under the influence (OUI)1 or driving while intoxicated (DWI). While many people may consider DUI to be a relatively minor offense, the state can issue strict penalties such as fines, loss of your driver’s license, or even jail time if you’re convicted. While facing a DUI charge in state criminal court is stressful enough, college students who are arrested for DUI have even more to worry about. That’s because a DUI commonly constitutes a violation of a college’s code of conduct. This means that in addition to a criminal DUI case, college students may also face judgment and sanctions by their school.
The Drinking Age and the Legal Limit
Every driver should be aware that drinking and driving is both illegal and dangerous. However, it can be difficult for someone – especially a younger driver – to be able to tell when they have had too much to drive. Many people may not necessarily feel drunk after drinking, so they attempt to drive. Unfortunately, they don’t realize that their abilities are impaired.
In every state, the legal limit for drivers age 21 and older is a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent. BAC can be determined by a breathalyzer test or a blood test conducted by law enforcement. The number of drinks it can take to exceed the legal limit depends on your physical size, what you have eaten, how fast you drank, and other factors. If your BAC is unknown or you refuse a breathalyzer test, an officer can conduct field sobriety tests and use other observations about your behavior, physicality, and demeanor to infer that your abilities are impaired.
While it is not difficult to exceed the legal BAC limit while drinking, the laws are even stricter for drivers under the legal drinking age of 21. Because it is illegal for these individuals to drink alcohol in the first place, the majority of states have a zero tolerance policy2 for underage DUI. This means that even a few sips of alcohol could result in a positive BAC reading and an underage DUI charge.
College Codes and DUI
College codes of conduct can greatly vary from institution to institution, though most address a variety of alcohol-related offenses, including DUI. Colleges set out a wide range of penalties for students who violate DUI rules. These penalties can include the following:
- A mandatory alcohol education program
- A formal reprimand in your file
- Loss of a scholarship
- Loss of a place on a sports team
- Loss of financial aid
- Deferred suspension
While most schools will not expel a student for a first-time DUI, some will. Others reserve expulsion for multiple offenses.
The Long-term Consequences of DUI
Even if you are not suspended or expelled from your college, a DUI conviction and college code violation can potentially affect your educational and professional future. If you plan to go to grad school, you’ll have to disclose your DUI on your application. This can be an important factor in the determination of your acceptance. This is especially true for professional schools such as medical or law school, which take signs of potential substance abuse or poor judgment very seriously when considering applicants.
In addition, having a DUI on your criminal record can disqualify you from certain jobs. If you are required to have an ignition interlock device, you may not be able to drive a car owned by your employer, and it may be an embarrassment if friends or family want to ride in the car with you.
At Duffy Law, we understand how stressful it is to face a college code violation and criminal allegation at the same time. College code attorney Felice Duffy regularly represents the rights of college students at their institutions and individuals who are criminally accused of DUI. She will work for the best possible result in all aspects of your DUI case, so please call our office today if you need assistance.