College life often includes heavy drinking – and driving

College life can be exciting for young people, especially when it comes to drinking with friends. However, some students may face underage DUI charges.

Colleges across the country are back in session. This is an exciting time for many young people, whether they are in their first year of college or returning. In addition to the educational opportunities college presents, university life also comes with numerous chances to party. Nothing is wrong with having a good time with friends after a stressful week of classes and studying; however, many North Carolina students may find themselves facing criminal DWI charges.

How prevalent is college drinking, especially when it pertains to drinking and driving? According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, about 3,360,000 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 every year admit to driving under the influence. A DUI can result in consequences that may affect young people for years, not the least of which are fines, community service and possible jail time. There is also the stigma of having a DUI on one's driving record. University administration may enact additional penalties, up to suspension from sports or expulsion. Students may also have a difficult time getting to classes or jobs if their driver's licenses have been suspended.

Why do college students drink?

It is not uncommon for new students to adjust to the demands of life in college by drinking heavily after classes or on weekends. There are additional activities that are seen as a normal part of the university experience, states the Prevention Resource Center. These may include the following:

  • Drinking at sporting events
  • Parties hosted by fraternities or sororities
  • Drinking at off-campus residences
  • Going to nearby bars to drink on the weekends or after classes

Any of these situations carry the risk of being arrested as a minor. However, students over the age of 21 may also face penalties if they make the decision to drink and drive.

Defending your rights after a DUI

Alcohol has a reputation for clouding judgment, so young people who otherwise would not drink and drive might make a mistake. When combined with the novelty of adult life, peer pressure and the stress of classes and studying, this college rite of passage may turn into a costly mistake that can continue haunting a person for years.

You have the right to be treated fairly in court after a drunk driving arrest, whether you are underage or over 21. After a DUI charge, you will need to contact a North Carolina defense attorney with experience in drunk driving charges.