THE SCENE: You are the proud parent of an 18-year old college-bound teenager who has just graduated from High School with honors. To celebrate her graduation and full-ride offer to USC, she asks for permission to attend a graduation party hosted by her best friend. The party is off-the-hook with loud music, friends and plenty of vodka Jello-shots. On her way back home at 3:00 A.M., your daughter sees the flashing red and blue lights of the CHP. She quickly pulls over in compliance. Only to be later arrested for underage drinking.
With graduation and prom season upon us, California also sees a marked increase in underage drunk driving charges. It is important to understand that aside from the fact that a conviction for drinking and driving may negatively impact anyone’s life; it can also be a true game-changer for college-bound teens. Specifically, the student is required to disclose his/her DUI on college and/or graduate school applications. Some higher learning institutions may use this information to deny or rescind admission. Moreover, an underage DUI can affect scholarships, athletic team participation and future job opportunities.
Underage drivers (motorists who are under the age of 21) who operate a vehicle while “under the influence” or with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher can be charged with a “standard” DUI and generally face the same penalties as drivers who are at least 21 years old. However, under California Vehicle Code 23136, “It is unlawful for a person under the age of 21 years who has a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.01 percent or greater, as measured by a preliminary alcohol screening test or other chemical test, to drive a vehicle.” As such, underage drivers can also be convicted of a “zero-tolerance” offense for having a BAC of .01% or an “underage DUI” for having a BAC of .05% or more.
POSSIBLE CONSEQUENCES AFTER UNDERAGE ARRESTS:
Jail time up to 6-months;
Fines and penalties;
3-5-year summary probation terms;
Driver’s License suspension up to 1-year;
Mandatory classes and programs;
Mandatory and costly installation of Ignition Interlock Device;
Possible denial of admission to college/scholarship, etc.
CAN A DUI REALLY AFFECT COLLEGE ADMISSION/SCHOLARSHIP? MAYBE.
Depending on the admissions policy of the school, not all schools will penalize a student for a DUI. However, failure to disclose the DUI on an application when required to report it, may be grounds for automatic denial or rescission of admission into a college or university. The important take-away is that a DUI conviction will be picked up on the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) background check.
WHAT SHOULD A STUDENT WITH A DUI CONVICTION DO?
It is important to fully disclose and be honest about all prior convictions on college and scholarship applications. Most colleges and scholarship review agents will not penalize or bar the student who has come clean. Remember, there are many doctors, lawyers, even Presidents of the United States who had DUI convictions before entering college and have enjoyed long professional careers without the stigma of having been arrested in their youth.
ARE THERE ANY OTHER SUGGESTIONS? YES!
Speak with a TPA DUI Attorney first;
Understand the institutions policy with regard to criminal convictions;
Get involved with community volunteering opportunities to demonstrate the student is responsible, and a contributing member of society;
Highlight the students academic, sports, work history to demonstrate the DUI was an isolated fluke in the student’s promising life.