young-man-head-on-steering-wheel-duiExtra-long twin sheets. A new laptop, a dorm-size fridge, and a good fan. The name of a skilled DUI attorney. If you don't think your college student needs that last item on their back-to-school checklist, they could pay big-time for your mistake.

Many parents of college students either think that their kid would never do something as dumb as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or they have a tough-love approach that leaves the kid hanging out to dry after an arrest. While both approaches are understandable, you could be doing your young adult son or daughter a major disservice by not being prepared to prevent a DUI conviction.

Why College Students Are at High Risk for DUIs in Florida

Let's face it—college students are easy targets for law enforcement officers out to make DUI arrests. After all, they are known for binge drinking and making poor decisions, so why wouldn't a police officer patrol campuses and college hangouts? College students are at high risk of a DUI because:

  • They are often underage. Florida has a zero-tolerance policy for underage drinking, so any amount of alcohol in the system of a driver who is under 21 is grounds for a DUI arrest. With such a low threshold, it's easy to make charges stick.
  • They are careless. Young people lack the judgment of older adults, and that, coupled with alcohol, means they often take risks that endanger themselves and others. Police officers are responsible for assuring public safety, so they feel obligated to target young people.
  • They are in a concentrated area. Going after kids on or near a college campus is like shooting fish in a barrel. With so many of them in one place, campuses are logical places for DUI traffic stops.
  • Spring breakers have a notorious reputation. It's not just college campuses that are targeted during spring break season. Cops are all over beach towns during February and March—and Floridians are grateful for law enforcement presence at these times. However, if your child is arrested while on spring break in Florida, you will need a Florida criminal defense attorney.

Given these facts, the odds are better than average that your Florida college student will be charged with a DUI—or a Minor in Possession of Alcohol if they are not driving but are underage—at some point during their college career.

Why You Should Intervene When Your Child Is Charged

You can impose whatever punishment you want on your kid after an arrest—cut off their allowance, make them transfer to a local community college, take their car away, make them work all summer to pay you back for legal fees—it's up to you. But making them face the justice system on their own could affect them for the rest of their lives. Potential consequences of a college DUI conviction in college include:

  • Fines. Convicted individuals may be required to pay substantial fines, which can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars, depending on the circumstances.
  • Probation. The court may impose a period of probation, during which the student must adhere to specific conditions, such as mandatory counseling, alcohol education programs, and regular check-ins with a probation officer.
  • Driver's license suspension. A conviction for drunk driving typically results in a driver's license suspension. In Florida, the length of the suspension varies based on factors such as blood alcohol content  (BAC) and any prior convictions.
  • Higher insurance premiums. Following a drunk driving conviction, the student's auto insurance premiums are likely to increase significantly. Insurance companies consider drunk driving as high-risk behavior, leading to higher rates or even policy cancellation.
  • Criminal record. A conviction for drunk driving results in a permanent criminal record. This can have long-lasting consequences, including difficulty finding employment, housing, and educational opportunities in the future.
  • Academic consequences. Colleges and universities may take disciplinary action against students convicted of drunk driving. This can include academic probation, suspension, or even expulsion, depending on the institution's policies.
  • Financial aid. A criminal conviction, including drunk driving, can impact eligibility for financial aid, scholarships, or grants. Certain offenses may disqualify students from receiving federal or state aid.
  • Professional licenses. Some professions—including teaching, medicine, counseling, and law—require professional licenses, and a criminal conviction can jeopardize the ability to obtain or maintain those licenses. This can significantly impact career prospects and opportunities.

Not only will these consequences change the trajectory of your child's future, but they could also become very burdensome for you as the parent. You could be the one paying the price for your child's fines, loss of license, insurance premiums, and unemployment. Hiring a Florida juvenile DUI defense lawyer could make all the difference.

Brandy Merrifield
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Florida Criminal Defense Attorney