People often describe college as the best four years of their life. It's a time of new experiences, intensive learning, and you often meet friends you will keep for the rest of your life. On most college campuses, it's no secret that drinking plays a significant role in the social lives of college students. Unfortunately, many students drink and drive after a long night out. This is dangerous not only to the student behind the wheel, but to any passengers he or she might be transporting, not to mention to vehicles and pedestrians. It also puts them at risk for receiving a DUI, which is a criminal charge that can follow them for years to come if they're convicted.
If the student is under the legal drinking age, many states may impose an even harsher DUI penalty. If you're in college and get slapped with a DUI charge, it's in your best interests to seek out a criminal defense attorney immediately.
How Can a DUI Affect Me as a College Student?
Depending on your campus - and whether you were charged with a DUI on or off campus - the police may report your DUI charge to the college. This could put any scholarships at risk, and if you're on a sports team or part of any other high-profile organization, you could risk losing your place there as well. If you live on campus, there's a chance that even your housing could be at risk when you get a DUI.
Furthermore, a DUI conviction could affect your chances at achieving certain career paths, such as being a lawyer, doctor, teacher, or finding positions in government. And if you do side work or are planning on a career path that requires a significant amount of driving (like being a commercial driver), your chances are severely limited.
In the short term, you're likely to face a hefty fine, possible jail time, and/or suspension of your driver's license. These can be devastating if you don't have a lot of money or if you rely on your car to get to work and class.
What Should I Do If I Get a DUI?
If you're pulled over, try and stay calm. Polite and rational behavior is sure to go a long way towards your meeting with the police officer. Plus, anything you say or do really will be used against you in a court of law. Get your license and registration information out in advance and be sure to roll down your window. You don't have to take the field sobriety tests if they ask you, but in states that have an implied consent law, you can get in further hot water by refusing to do so.
If you do end up being charged with a DUI, the first thing you should do is call a DUI lawyer or criminal defense attorney. These lawyers can work to reduce the charges and effects of the charges against you. In some cases, they may even be able to challenge the results of the sobriety test. A criminal defense attorney can submit a plea bargain on your behalf, walk you through any necessary paperwork, and advise you on the wisest path forward. You'll definitely need an attorney if there's solid evidence that you were drunk or if your blood alcohol content was very high (the legal limit is 0.08).
If the case goes to trial, you'll certainly need the advice of a criminal defense attorney, especially if you're facing jail time. If your college threatens expulsion or denies you housing, they may also be able to help you with those situations as well.
In short, a DUI lawyer will ensure that your legal rights are respected, no matter what you're charged with.
If you find yourself with a DUI charge after a fun night of partying, it's in your best interests to get in touch with a criminal defense attorney immediately. Don't let one night disrupt your future for good.
Looking for a Virginia criminal defense lawyers after your first DUI charge? Give John Elledge and Associates PC a call and let us help you find the best path forward.