What a Minor in Possession or DUI Conviction Means to College Students

What a Minor in Possessio…

College is a time of personal exploration for many students. As the first time living away from your parents, you may find yourself experimenting with activities and substances not allowed at home. Alcohol is at the top of many college students’ lists. But getting caught with alcohol or driving drunk could have lasting consequences you may not realize. Find out what a minor in possession or DUI conviction could mean to your driving record, your bank account, and your future career.

The College Experience Often Includes Alcohol

If you feel like you are expected to drink as a college student, you aren’t alone. There is absolutely nothing wrong with staying sober and saying no to alcohol while you are in school. After all, the legal drinking age in Connecticut and around the country is 21 -- most people’s Junior or even Senior year.

However, underage drinking is a reality among college-aged young adults. According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), nearly 55% of full-time college students ages 18-22 admitted to drinking alcohol in the past month. More than ⅓ of all college students said they binge drink (having 5 or more drinks in one sitting for men, 4 for women), and almost 10% said they binge drank more than 5 times in the past month.

When College Drinking Turns into Legal Trouble

There are many negative consequences to drinking alcohol, but when the police get involved things can get even more serious. College students, especially those under age 21, can face serious legal trouble if they are found in possession of alcohol or driving while drunk. A conviction for possession of alcohol by a minor or driving under the influence (DUI) can bring academic trouble, driving restrictions, fines and costs, and in some cases, could even send you to jail. Let’s look at the charges one by one.

Possession of Alcohol by a Minor

Connecticut law makes possession of alcohol by a minor an infraction. Young adults under age 21 may not have alcohol on their persons or in their control in public or private areas, or in their cars. For college students, minor in possession tickets can happen when the police are called to frat parties or sorority events, when walking around campus at Fairfield University with your alcohol, or even while hanging out drinking in your dorm room at Sacred Heart University.

If you are a minor found in possession of alcohol, pleading guilty will result in a fine of $200 to $500, and a 30 - 60 day driver’s license suspension. (Reinstating your license will cost an additional $175.) If you have not yet gotten your driver’s license, your ability to apply for one will be suspended instead.

Minor Procuring Liquor

It is also illegal for minors to buy alcohol. In Connecticut, a minor who makes false statements, lies about their age, or uses a fake driver’s license to get alcohol can be charged with a misdemeanor. These charges most often happen in and around the liquor stores near campus.

If you are charged as a minor making misrepresentations to procure alcohol, you could face an infraction with a fine of $200 to $500, or a Class D misdemeanor. The penalty for using a fake ID to buy alcohol is up to 30 days in jail, $200 to $500 and a 150 day driver’s license suspension.

Driving Under the Influence

It is illegal for anyone to drive drunk -- no matter how old they are. However, if you are under age 21, the definition of “drunk” is far more strict. Adults can face DUI charges if their blood alcohol content (BAC) is more than 0.08%; but if you are under 21, that limit is 0.02%. Depending on your size, weight, and body type, that could mean you are legally drunk after just one beer.

If you are charged with Operating Under the Influence (OUI), you could face:

  • Up to 6 months in jail
  • Mandatory 48 hours in jail or 100 hours of community services with probation
  • Fines of $500 to $1000
  • Driver’s license suspension for 45 days followed by the use of an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) for 1 year

When you already have 1 OUI conviction and are facing a second offense, those penalties increase to:

  • 120 days to 2 years in jail
  • Probation including 100 hours of community service, substance abuse assessment, and alcohol dependency treatment (if ordered)
  • Fines of $1000 to $4000
  • Driver’s license suspension for 45 days followed by driving restrictions and 3 years using an IID

A third or subsequent offense has consequences of:

  • 1 to 3 years in jail
  • Probation including 100 hours of community service, substance abuse assessment, and alcohol dependency treatment (if ordered)
  • Fines of $2000 to $8000
  • Driver’s license permanently revoked and lifetime IID requirements if ever reinstated

The Lasting Effects of Minor in Possession and DUI Convictions

The consequences of an MIP or DUI conviction go beyond the courthouse. In addition to the penalties described above, college students facing alcohol-related charges should consider a conviction’s affect on:

School Discipline

The federal Drug-Free Schools and Campuses Act requires every college and university to have a code of conduct that prohibits alcohol use, possession, or distribution on campus or as part of school-sponsored events. If you were found with alcohol on school property, you could face school discipline, or even be expelled because of it.

Auto Insurance

Even a minor infraction like possession of alcohol by a minor can end up costing hundreds, even thousands of dollars in added insurance costs. Once the conviction shows up on your permanent driving history, your auto insurance carrier can use that to justify charging you higher premiums for the same coverage.

Career Choices

College is also a time of self-discovery and choosing a career path. But an early OUI conviction could make it hard, or even impossible, to pursue your top career choices. Many careers in law enforcement, medicine, and other areas require a clean criminal history. That means decisions you make now about drinking and driving could change the course of the rest of your life.

Alcohol may be part of many students’ experience at college, but it comes with some risks. If your drinking on or near campus results in possession of alcohol by a minor or operating under the influence charges, you have options to help you avoid a conviction that could change your life. Based in Fairfield, Connecticut, The Lebedevitch Law Firm works closely with college students from Fairfield University and Sacred Heart University facing alcohol-related charges in Fairfield County and New Haven counties. We will help you defend your criminal record, and your driver’s license, so you can focus on your school work. Contact us for a free consultation.

Categories: Criminal Defense, DUI