College drinking is a rite of passage, but can come with consequences

With school back in session and well under way, many college students in Arizona will be balancing their study time with some much-needed unwinding. This will often include drinking, as many people consider this to be a normal part of the college experience. Another common effect of college drinking, unfortunately, is getting a DUI.

There is nothing wrong with having a good time with friends. Sporting activities, dorm parties and just hanging out at the bar are great ways to connect with new and old friends. However, college students may not be prepared for the consequences that can come from an unexpected drunk driving charge. More than just the legal ramifications, a DUI conviction can have long-lasting effects that may impact a student's future at school and even his or her job prospects down the road.

Drunk driving laws in Arizona are strict

The laws surrounding drunk driving in the state are among the steepest in the country, which means that equally strong legal representation is needed to ensure that a defendant's rights are protected. The penalties for drunk driving in Arizona include the following:

  • Automatic jail time (in some cases 45 days on a first offense)
  • Fines of thousands of dollars.
  • Additional assessment fees of several hundred to thousands of dollars.
  • Mandatory ignition interlock device installation on all convictions, even a first offense.
  • Possible community restitution.
  • Mandatory alcohol classes

According to the Arizona Department of Public Safety, these penalties are greatly increased for subsequent convictions or an aggravated DUI offense.

Possible long-term consequences of drinking at school

Once a college student with a DUI has dealt with these penalties, he or she may face consequences from the school administration. At the very least, it can be difficult to deal with the loss of reputation from a drunk driving charge, as well as the challenges of driving to and from classes and work if a driver's license has been suspended or revoked. Having a DUI on their driving record can also make it difficult for students who have graduated and are ready to enter their chosen career.

Despite the possible ramifications, many college students adjust to the pressures of the first few weeks of school by having some drinks, says the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Getting help from an attorney

The period after a DUI arrest can be difficult and frightening. An attorney can make sure you're treated fairly in court and may be able to have some penalties lessened or even dropped, depending on your circumstances. If you're facing drunk driving charges, contact an experienced DUI defense attorney to discuss your options.