There are special challenges for college students facing drunk driving charges. University students arrested for a DUI may be under the age of 21 and have never had any experience with the criminal justice system. In addition to the criminal charges associated with a DUI, college students may face additional consequences from their university, and could even have to deal with a criminal conviction for years to come.
If you or your college-age child is arrested on suspicion of a DUI in Virginia, you need to contact an experienced Charlottesville DUI defense lawyer as soon as possible. Avoiding a criminal conviction can help keep your criminal record clean, keep your license to drive, and prevent any further consequences of a one-time mistake. Talk to your Virginia DUI defense attorney today about your rights.
College Students Arrested for a DUI in Charlottesville
In Charlottesville, students come from around the world to attend UVA, and for many of them, it is their first real time being on their own. Many young college students experiment with alcohol or drug use during this time, and in some cases, they get behind the wheel while impaired.
Police and law enforcement in Charlottesville are trained in what to look for to identify drivers who are under the influence. Any traffic violation can give the police reason to stop the vehicle and investigate further. The odor of alcohol, the appearance of impairment, or admission of drinking, along with other factors, may be enough to justify a DUI arrest, even if the driver is not actually over the limit.
DUI Penalties for College Students in Virginia
Under Virginia Code § 18.2-266, it is unlawful for any person to drive or operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher. College students who are over the age of 21 face the same criminal penalties as anyone else convicted of a DUI. Consequences of a 1st offense DUI may include:
- A suspended license for 12 months,
- Ignition interlock device required,
- Minimum jail time for high BACs,
- Mandatory minimum fine, and
- VASAP DUI school.
Virginia has a zero-tolerance policy for underage driver's who have been drinking. An under-21 driver can face a DUI with a BAC of 0.02 percent or higher. Even a single drink can be enough to trigger an underage DUI.
A driver under the age of 21 who is driving with a BAC of 0.02% or higher can face a suspended license for 1 year. The driver may also have to pay fines, complete community service, and attend alcohol education or substance abuse treatment.
Other Charges Associated with College Student DUIs in Virginia
When college students are pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving, they may face additional criminal charges. This may include:
- Underage possession of alcohol
- Use of a fake ID
- Driving on a suspended license
- Drug possession charges
- Possession of drug paraphernalia
When a young person is facing multiple charges, the prosecutor often uses the charges as a negotiating tool to get the driver to plead guilty to certain charges in exchange for dropping other charges. However, before taking a plea deal, make sure you understand your rights and what you are giving up.
University of Virginia Consequences for Student DUIs
The University of Virginia has policies against underage drinking and drug use. Students arrested for a DUI may have to inform school officials about the incident. The university may take action against the student for drug or alcohol violations, including suspension and expulsion.
Student athletes and scholarship recipients may also face disciplinary actions if they are arrested for drunk driving. This may include being released from the team or losing a scholarship.
Graduate School Consequences of a DUI Conviction
Many students will go on to graduate school, professional school, or pursue an advanced degree after graduating from college. When applying to a graduate school or program, applicants may be asked about any criminal history, including a DUI. This may harm the applicant's chances at getting accepted to competitive programs.
Drug DUIs and College Students
Students in college may also experiment with the recreational use of marijuana. However, the Commonwealth of Virginia still takes a strong stand against any impaired driving, including marijuana. Marijuana may be detected in the blood long after the effects of the drug have worn off. This may result in a sober driver being charged for a marijuana DUI.
Many students may also be surprised to learn that they can be charged with a drug DUI for driving under the influence of a prescription medication. Many prescribed drugs can cause impairment, especially when combined with alcohol. Even if the driver was not aware of the impairing effects of their medication, the driver can still face prescription drug DUI charges.
DUI for College Students with Out-of-State Driver's License
A DUI can be especially difficult to deal with for out-of-state students. An arrest in Virginia could have implications on a driver's privileges even if they have a driver's license from another state. Most states, including Virginia, share information about traffic violations, including drunk driving arrests.
A driver with an out-of-state license who is arrested for a DUI in Virginia will lose their driving privileges within the Commonwealth. The driver's license consequences will depend on the state where the driver's license was issued. An out-of-state student will have to deal with the criminal DUI charges in Virginia, as well as their driving penalties in their home state.
UVA Student DUI Defense Attorney
With all the consequences that come with a DUI conviction, young drivers have a lot to lose. Before pleading guilty, make sure you understand your rights and possible defenses to Virginia DUI charges. If you or your child was arrested for a drug or alcohol DUI in Virginia, talk to an experienced Charlottesville DUI defense attorney about how to fight the criminal charges and keep a clean record. Contact attorney Thomas M. Wilson today for a free consultation.