College Campus DUI Laws

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on September 14, 2015 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

No, not all college students are of legal drinking age. Yes, most college students are going to drink anyway. (They're especially going to drink at these ten schools.)

If and when they do drink, hopefully they do so responsibly and don't end up behind the wheel of a car. Law enforcement, both on and off campus, is cracking down on alcohol offenses. College students may also face additional DUI penalties from the school.

Checking In

State DUI laws can vary, but they all result in severe penalties. While a minor in possession of alcohol charge may only get you a citation and some community service, a drunk driving conviction can cost you jail time, thousands of dollars, and your license.

Don't be fooled -- for the most part, campus police are real police and can enforce DUI laws, often by setting up DUI checkpoints. If you encounter a DUI checkpoint on campus, know that, while you don't have an obligation to proceed through a checkpoint, turning around may arouse suspicion. You should also be aware that officers are beginning to perform drug swabs at checkpoints and you can get arrested for drugged driving.

Checking Out

Once you've been pulled over, whether after a checkpoint or otherwise, a drunk driving investigation on campus will likely proceed like any other DUI stop. Officers may use evidence of bad driving, field sobriety tests, or chemical tests to determine impairment.

There are two unique circumstances that college students should be aware of, however. First, you should understand how per se DUI laws interact with underage drivers and zero tolerance laws. A "per se" DUI means that any blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over a certain amount is illegal. Most states place this limit at .08 BAC, but if a driver is under the legal drinking age, normally 21, any evidence of BAC at all, even as low as .01 or .02 can result in a conviction.

Second, the penalties imposed by city or state DUI ordinances may not be your only punishment. Underage drinking, and DUI especially, are often prohibited under a school's student code of conduct, and universities are generally given the leeway to enforce student codes of conduct up to and including expulsion from school.

Moving On

That said, you can move on from a college DUI conviction if you handle it the right way. It's still possible to remain in college or get into college with a criminal conviction on your record, and there are ways to expunge a DUI conviction.

If you've been charged with a DUI or DWI, on campus or off, you should contact an experienced DUI attorney as soon as possible.

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