March 5, 2019
What Every College Student Should Know About DUI Charges
For many college students, it’s part of the whole university experience. In fact, medical journals even discuss alcohol abuse as a rite of passage for undergraduates. That said, not every college student facing DUI charges was actually too drunk to drive.
You might wonder how that’s even possible. And, if you’re the one arrested for drunk driving, you may think that alone means you’re innocent. However, you might not want to celebrate – just yet.
The demographics of every college differs. Take for example the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania. Reports indicate that 49.4% of students are in the age 18 to 21 bracket. Compare that to King’s College where 65% of the student population is in the same age range.
Of those numbers, a great many college or university students have not yet hit their twenty-first birthday. Therein, lies a major problem when it comes to drinking alcohol. And no, it’s not necessarily about drunk and rowdy behavior.
Underage and Facing DUI Charges
Pennsylvania has zero tolerance for underage drinking. If you’re 21 and facing DUI charges, you’ll have a better defense if you’re blood alcohol content (BAC) registers less than .08%.
However, even if you are 20 and 364 days, the rules change. If you blow into the breathalyzer and come up with even .02%, you can be arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated. You might not have finished that beer or glass of wine and come up with that number.
While it’s true that some college students are binge drinkers, many wait until the next day before they decide to drive home. In some cases, that won’t matter. Even after recovering from a night of heavy drinking, a reading can come up positive. All it takes is the .02% BAC for an underaged driver to face DUI charges according to the statute:
“A minor may not drive, operate or be in actual physical control of the movement of a vehicle after imbibing a sufficient amount of alcohol such that the alcohol concentration in the minor’s blood or breath is 0.02% or higher within two hours after the minor has driven, operated or been in actual physical control of the movement of the vehicle.”
It’s therefore essential to retain an attorney with experience in handling DUI charges. The penalties could alarm you.
Penalties for College Students Facing DUI
If you’re facing DUI charges and over the age of 21, you should know that the level of your intoxication matters when it comes to the consequences. For example, if your BAC is under .10%, Pennsylvania laws consider you as meeting the criteria for General Impairment.
The penalties you face as a first offender are also different when you compare them to repeat offenders. So, what about college students who are underage? What’s different in the way the law treats them?
For starters, you should know that you face additional jail time, fines and license suspension. The penalties may extend beyond what the court orders as well.
Truth be told, if you’re caught drunk-driving as a minor, you could face other consequences as well. Where did you get the alcohol in the first place? You could face charges for the illegal purchase.
In the meantime, you could find yourself facing disciplinary charges at your college. For example, the University of Scranton publishes policies regarding the use, possession or consumption of alcohol. An attorney with experience in representing college students charged with DUI can assist you in determining what you need to do at school as well.
Of course, there’s also the issue of financial aid and scholarship money. You’ll want to know if your DUI will impact them as well.
Are you a college student facing DUI charges? At Mazzoni Karam Petorak & Valvano, we can help you with experienced legal advocacy. Contact us to set up an appointment to discuss the approach to your defense in court.