Legal consequences of drinking alcohol on college campuses
With the approach of the end of summer and Labor Day weekend, college students are beginning their annual migration back to our local colleges for the start of the school year. It is a time for optimism, meeting new friends or reuniting with classmates. Unfortunately, the focus of social life on college campuses involves underage and binge drinking of alcohol in dorms, off-campus housing, fraternity and sorority houses, or local bars that may result in “life changing” consequences such as a record of criminal conviction for summary offenses such as Underage Drinking, Carrying a False Identification Card, Public Drunkenness, Public Urination, Disorderly Conduct and Harassment; or, misdemeanors and felonies such as Driving Under the Influence, Resisting Arrest, Aggravated Assault or Sexual Assault. Whether due to peer pressure or an escape from the confines of parental supervision, many students are exposed to alcohol shortly after their arrival on campus. In the generic case, the alcohol is provided at parties in off-campus housing or fraternities and sorority houses. In fact, drinking alcohol is considered a “rite of passage” for a successful social life on campus. The sad reality, however, is that alcohol is literally a “poison” for the inexperienced. Many underclassman, and especially freshmen, are unprepared for the effects of alcohol intoxication, and frequently overindulge. For the great majority, the effects of drinking alcohol are limited to disorientation, vomiting, diarrhea and a terrible hangover. In many cases, such symptoms decrease over time as the body builds a tolerance to the effects of alcohol, which leads to more consumption and the potential for catastrophic results. The most troubling recent phenomena on campuses is Binge Drinking; that is, consumption of enormous amounts of alcohol within a short period of time on weekends or at social events. For an unfortunate few, loss of consciousness or death from alcoholic poisoning results. One of the booming “underground businesses” on college campuses involves the sale of “fake” driver’s licenses that claim the holder is at least 21 years of age. Although expensive, these “fake ID cards” are frequently accepted at on-campus bars, and provide another opportunity for students to drink and abuse alcohol when socializing. What students (and parents) need to understand is Underage Drinking and Carrying a False Identification Card are serious CRIMES that may negatively affect future educational, employment or financial opportunities. The following are the penalties that may result from an alcohol-related criminal conviction, and do NOT include sanction imposed by the school for violation of a Code of Student Conduct:
- Underage Drinking and Carrying a False Identification Card: 90 days in jail, a fine of $300.00, in addition to a 90 day suspension of driving privilege for a first offense; a fine of $500.00 and an additional one year suspension of driving privilege for a second offense; and, an additional two year suspension of driving privilege for a third offense.
- Public Drunkenness, Public Urination, Harassment and Disorderly Conduct: 90 days in jail, a fine of $300.00, or both.