College should open doors to countless opportunities and experiences, but all it takes is one word to shatter your future: Guilty. More than three million college students drive drunk, and many of these students are arrested as a result. Beyond the most serious consequence of drunk driving — risking the safety of oneself and others — those who are caught face life-altering repercussions, which become exponentially worse if there is a conviction. And if you are under 21, all it takes is a .02% blood alcohol level to be arrested in Ohio.
With more than 50,000 college and trade school students at dozens of institutions — from University of Cincinnati to Xavier and many more — Cincinnati is a wonderful, vibrant city to study and pursue your future. But we often see that drinking and driving among this student population is an unfortunate reality.
Among the penalties for first-time DUI offenders in Ohio are license suspension for up to three years, probation for up to five years, fines totaling over $1,000, and jail time. A DUI conviction can hold you back just when you’re starting out in the world. Consider the following ramifications if you’re found guilty of driving drunk:
At the most extreme level, a DUI may equal total loss of freedom if it results in jail time. Alternatively, offenders may be enrolled in a driver intervention program. Instead of spending time focusing on class, internships, your job search, team sports, university clubs, and friends, you’ll be behind bars or in a mandatory class.
Another way a DUI conviction restrains your freedom is through license suspension. Without a license, you may soon feel like you’re back in high school, being shuttled around by friends, family, and public transportation. Relying on other people may make it difficult to hold a steady job — especially if you don’t live in an area with reliable transportation — and may prevent you from pursuing certain classes and opportunities that don’t fit with your driver’s schedule.
In today’s competitive job market, landing the ideal job, dream internship, or spot in a selective graduate program often requires top grades and recommendations from professors. A DUI conviction can affect both your academics and relationships with professors if you have to miss class due to jail time, intervention classes, court hearings, and/or probation meetings.
A DUI can carry a fine of more than $1,000 for a first-time offender in Ohio. This fine can increase to more than $10,000 if you are a multiple DUI offender in Ohio. Paying fines means you will have less money to put towards college tuition, housing, books, and meals. Some students may not be able to afford their tuition and other living costs after handling these legal expenses.
One night of beer pong, casual drinks, or partying can have lasting effects on your future if you are arrested and convicted of drunk driving. For starters, employers may refuse to hire someone with a prior conviction if they show a business necessity for the decision. Even if an employer is willing to disregard a past conviction, you may be precluded from certain jobs that involve driving.
A DUI conviction can also limit the types of careers or graduate programs you can pursue. For example, employment that hinges on high ethical standards and/or professional licenses may be more difficult to attain, such as legal jobs, law enforcement positions, or jobs involving children. Further, the conviction can continue to shadow you through life, as you may be required to disclose it on job applications or applications for professional memberships, such as legal practice.
In 2014, police engaged in more than 600 enforcements for operating a vehicle impaired in Hamilton County alone. Law enforcement in the Cincinnati area take drinking and driving seriously, and students should understand the repercussions they may face without the best advocate on their side.
These consequences are frightening and serious, but with the right representation, a DUI offense doesn’t have to ruin your life. Just because you test over the legal drinking limit — or refuse to allow a test — doesn’t mean you should rush to plead guilty. An experienced attorney can prepare a winnable, aggressive defense to your DUI case and keep your life on track. By combining detailed investigation, technology, and tailored defense strategies, a seasoned attorney can give you a voice to fight the DUI charge.