College is often considered to be a place where students can experience new and different things. The hope is that these experiences will help them develop into well-rounded and capable adults, but sometimes young adults make mistakes while they experience those new things.
Hopefully, students will learn from their mistakes, but some mistakes have significant consequences that can impact their chances of continuing their education. Being charged with and convicted of driving while intoxicated is one of those mistakes.
Legal consequences of a DUI
Because operating a motor vehicle while impaired has such a high potential of causing serious injury and/or damage, the state of Pennsylvania takes DUIs very seriously. For college students who have not been previous charged with a DUI, the biggest concerns are being charged while under the legal drinking age or being charge when above the legal drinking age.
· Under 21
The legal drinking age in Pennsylvania is 21 years old. If you are younger than 21, the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) for underage drivers is 0.02%. If you are pulled over and your BAC is 0.02% or higher, you may be charged with a DUI. Penalties include,
o A fine between $300 and $500
o Up to 90 days in jail
It should also be noted that your license could be suspended for a year if your BAC is above 0.10%. Penalties can also be more severe depending on the circumstances (driving with underage passengers, having a fake ID, traffic violations). Insurance rates may also increase.
· Above 21
The legal BAC for adults over the age of 21 is 0.08%. If you are found to be operating a vehicle with a BAC of 0.08% or more, you can face penalties including a fine of $300.
If you refuse to take a sobriety or chemical test after being requested to do so by a law enforcement officer, your license will be immediately suspended for a year and an Interlock Ignition system may be installed in your vehicle.
Academic consequences of a DUI
It is important to know that many universities have higher standards for their student code of conduct than most law enforcement agencies. Because of this, even being charged with a DUI could mean that you are required to go to a disciplinary hearing before the school’s board of administration.
A school’s board of administration could temporarily suspend a student or even expel them. Additionally, any federal financial aid or scholarships could be revoked if you are convicted of a criminal offense. For many students, this would prevent them from being able to go to school.
Being forced to leave college could affect your immediate academic prospects, but it could also impact your ability to go to school somewhere else and your ability to find work. Because of the high potential for life-altering consequences, it is highly suggested that you speak with an experienced legal professional if you are facing and DUI-related charges.