Since middle school, maybe sooner, you have learned about the dangers of drinking and driving. In your driver education classes, you certainly saw films or heard lectures about the consequences of drunk driving and the tragedy of DUI accidents. Maybe your college has even sponsored events to promote responsible drinking.
All those warnings went out of your head at the party. Celebrating the end of the semester with some friends was a great idea, but now you are facing a DUI charge. How will this affect you when summer is over and you are ready to return to college?
Penalties and consequences
Of course, every university has its policies regarding students convicted of drunk driving. In some cases, police will notify your college if they arrest a student for DUI. Some colleges feel that student behavior contributes to the reputation of the institution, and they may take quick action, such as suspending or expelling you, or evicting you from campus housing. However, even if your institution does not penalize students with convictions, you may experience significant collateral damage, including:
- Loss of internship opportunities
- Disqualification from professional licensure programs
- Difficulty qualifying for jobs that require background checks, such as teaching or government positions
- Years of explaining your DUI to perspective employers
If you are receiving special scholarships or grants, you may find them revoked. If your DUI conviction includes a felony count, the federal government may temporarily disqualify you from student loan eligibility.
You will also be dealing with the immediate ramifications. If you are convicted, you will lose your license for several months. How will you get to your job or summer classes? Will your boss or professor tolerate your lateness or absence on days when you must perform community service, attend alcohol treatment or serve your jail sentence?
Avoiding a conviction
The consequences of a DUI conviction — even a first offense — can be long-reaching. Even if you are fortunate enough to receive a light sentence, the conviction will be a mark on your record to compromise future opportunities. All of this may stem from a conviction based on potentially faulty evidence.
Allowing a criminal attorney to evaluate your case and examine the evidence against you will give you a decided advantage in court. An attorney with thorough knowledge of Florida’s ever-changing drunk driving laws will help you determine if it is most beneficial for you to accept a plea or to fight to have the charges dropped.