College is a transitional time in your life where you have the opportunity to explore new experiences, meet new people and pave a path toward the career of your dreams. Personal and mental growth during college will help shape the adult you become, as well as your career and earning potential for the rest of your adult life.
Unfortunately, college is also a time when many people choose to indulge their wild side. Higher education is also associated with intense, even irresponsible socialization by youths who have recently moved away from their parents’ homes. That could mean going to raucous parties or tailgating before a big football game.
Both kinds of social activity can leave you at increased risk for impaired driving charges in the future. Driving under the influence (DUI) remains a serious offense in Oklahoma. People of any age can find themselves facing DUI charges, but college students may face more penalties and consequences than other adults for the same crime.
The criminal consequences for DUI matter
Some people mistakenly believe that a DUI is not a serious criminal charge, especially if it is someone’s first offense. Sadly, nothing could be farther from the truth. Even a first time DUI offense could result in between 10 days and a year in prison, a fine of $1,000 and the loss of your license for up to half a year.
Anyone who has a previous impaired driving charge on their record could face more jail time, a longer suspension period and higher fines. Repeat offenders will also be more likely to wind up required to install an ignition interlock device to prevent future impaired driving offenses.
College students may also face educational penalties
As if the criminal consequences for a DUI weren’t bad enough, college students facing impaired driving charges will have to worry about their enrollment in school and the status of any financial aid that they receive.
Many colleges and universities have a written student handbook or behavioral policy that they expect all students to adhere to, regardless of whether they live on or off campus. You could find yourself facing a disciplinary hearing or losing your status as a student because of a guilty plea or a conviction. Even if the school doesn’t punish you directly, you could still lose your financial aid.
Many scholarship programs, regardless of whether they are through private charities or the school itself, have separate disciplinary and behavioral expectations for scholarship recipients. Any criminal conviction may preclude you from receiving that financial aid. Given the increased risk, college students should try to be that much more proactive about defending themselves from allegations of impaired driving.