DUI and College Students

Within 50 miles of Fort Lauderdale, there are more than 60 colleges. Higher learning is all about gaining wisdom, but college students don’t always make the best choices. That doesn’t mean these youthful indiscretions should plague them for years to come.

At The Ansara Law Firm, our DUI criminal defense attorneys in Fort Lauderdale will work to minimize the impact this will have on your life.

As a college student, a DUI conviction is not only a hit to your wallet. Although it’s possible, it’s unlikely you would face much jail time (unless you are involved in a serious crash, in which case you’re facing felony charges). But even a misdemeanor DUI arrest can limit your job opportunities – both now and well into the future. It will cause you to lose invaluable time due to:

  • Court hearings
  • Community service
  • Probation
  • Interlock ignition calibrations
  • Driver education courses

You may fall behind on your studies, and it could block certain internship opportunities. You may face sanctions from your school, if the offense occurred on campus. This might include a disciplinary hearing, suspension and possibly expulsion. These proceedings would take place separate from the criminal case.

Underage college students may also find themselves held to a different standard. Because consuming alcohol is illegal for those under 21, the per se limit of blood-alcohol concentration for per se drivers is 0.02, per F.S. 322.2616. Although penalties under this statute are not as severe as those outlined in F.S. 316.193.

As experienced drunk driving attorneys, we understand the best way to eschew the worst of these consequences is to avoid a conviction in the first place. Our job is to formulate the most effective strategies, based on the facts of your case, to reduce the odds of conviction, or at least lessen the potential for lasting effect.

When College Students are Arrested for DUI

Although a DUI arrest is a headache for anyone, college students arrested for DUI in Fort Lauderdale may face some special challenges due to both their age and status as students.

Let’s start with the fact that underage drinking – even possession of alcohol (see F.S. 562.111) – is forbidden. (There is an exception under that statute for students over 18 who are “tasting” alcohol for purposes of a student’s required post-secondary curriculum. One may also “possess” alcohol if it’s in the course and scope of employment, but not for their own consumption).

When it comes to driving, you can face penalties under either F.S. 322.2616 or F.S. 316.193.

The first deals with DUI when your blood-alcohol concentration is at or above 0.02. Although it varies for individual people, in general a single standard drink will increase a person’s blood-alcohol concentration to somewhere between 0.02 and 0.05.

Under F.S. 322.2616, a person under 21 who is deemed to have been driving or in control of a vehicle while also having a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.02 or above will be subject to having their license suspended for six months. If one refuses a BAC test, his or her suspension will automatically be bumped up to one year.

However, if you are arrested under the provisions of F.S. 316.193, that means your blood-alcohol level met or exceeded 0.08, which is the legal limit for all drivers in Florida. A first-time conviction under this statute will involve:

  • Up to six months in jail;
  • Fine of between $500 and $1,000;
  • Possible ignition interlock ignition requirements (mandatory for second offense and beyond).

If the offense involved a crash with property damage, it’s a first-degree misdemeanor, which means the maximum possible criminal penalties are increased to one year.

If you are convicted of having a blood-alcohol level that meets or exceeds 0.15, the penalties will be even more serious.

Specifically for college students and high school students, we must also be careful consideration of the fact that we are living in the information age. Younger people especially are active on social media and other platforms. This can complicate matters for a few reasons. First of all, information found on those sites (i.e., photos of drinking, comments about drinking and driving, etc.) can be used against you in court. Beyond that, information may spread quickly about your arrest, and that information can last indefinitely online. It’s important to be discrete about what you post concerning alcohol or drug-related activities, as well as your arrest.

Our Fort Lauderdale DUI defense lawyers know this is a big deal in your life. We will doggedly defend your rights, and fight for the best possible outcome in your case. We know South Florida courts. We know state law. We know the pitfalls that police and prosecutors fall into, and how to work these issues to your advantage. We have a long history of proven success. Do not attempt to negotiate a plea bargain on your own without first speaking to an attorney.

If you have been charged with DUI in Fort Lauderdale, call The Ansara Law Firm today for your free initial consultation at (954) 761-4011.