College days have begun in Oklahoma, and underage drinking and DUI charges tend to spike during the first few weeks of school. According to a study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), college students are 10% more likely to drink under the legal drinking age than peers not enrolled in college. Returning students are excited to see their friends, and incoming freshmen are ready to be initiated into the new “college scene”. Sorority and fraternity recruitments are also coming to an end, which means Bid Day and Rush Parties are happening all over campus. Nobody is ignorant of the fact that underage drinking happens at college parties, but it seems students turn a blind eye to the consequences of this very real criminal offense.
Possession of Alcohol
Freshmen often stash their alcohol in their dorms or cars in order to hide it from their Residential Advisors. This is a huge mistake; if convicted, minors will be fined $300-$900 and assigned 30-90 hours of community service. Additionally, the judge will notify the DPS and revoke his or her driver’s license for up to two years. Other consequences to be aware of are your university’s punishments for underage possession of alcohol. For example, at the University of Oklahoma, a third alcohol-related offense will result in suspension.
At most college parties, the presence of alcohol is the direct result of an upperclassman’s willingness to provide to underage drinkers. Providing alcohol to minors carries a misdemeanor charge, including heavy fines of $500 or more and jail time, even for the first offense.
Unfortunately, 17% of fatal alcohol-related crashes are a result of underage drinking and driving. The blood alcohol content of minors involved in DUI crashes is an average of 5 times above the legal limit. A DUI at any age carries huge consequences, but a minor charged with a DUI suffers even more because the charge is twofold: underage drinking + DUI. Oklahoma is a “zero tolerance” state, which means any amount of alcohol found in a minor’s BAC is considered a DUI. Disclosure of a DUI conviction might be required on college applications, job applications and scholarship applications and failure to report the DUI can result in charges of perjury.
In Oklahoma, an underage DUI will result in revocation of driving privileges, fines ranging from $100-$2500, impounding the car involved, drug/alcohol education classes, drivers’ education, and possibly jail time.
According to the SAMHSA, approximately 25% of college students report academic consequences of their drinking including missing class, falling behind, doing poorly on exams or papers and receiving lower grades overall. For student organizations, allowing underage drinking can result in a campus suspension of the organization, and even consequences from the associated national organizations.
Unfortunately, there are many fatal consequences to underage drinking as well. Each year, approximately 5,000 young people under the age of 21 die as a result of underage drinking; this includes about 1,900 deaths from motor vehicle crashes, 1,600 as a result of homicides, 300 from suicide, as well as hundreds from other injuries such as falls, burns, and drownings (NIAAA).
A buzz from alcohol is temporary, but the consequences of underage drinking can last a lifetime. Think before you drink – college is only fun if you can experience it.
If you have been charged with underage possession of alcohol or DUI, call the lawyers at Laird Hammons Laird.