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Why parents need to talk to their kids about campus sex assault

As young people head off to their freshman year of college here in Maryland and across the country, many parents are taking the time to discuss the widely-reported problem of sexual assault on campus. Whether you're the parents of a daughter or son, it's essential to talk with them and impart your own expectations, even if college officials will be addressing these issues with incoming students at orientation seminars.

Alcohol, drug use and peer pressure can be a toxic blend for young people on their own for the first time. Parents of young women are rightfully concerned about preventing their daughters from becoming the victims of sexual assault. However, parents of young men are also having conversations with their sons to help them avoid becoming accused of sexual assault or accessory to someone else's illegal actions.

Plan your drunk driving defense early on

A drunk driving charge is something that can negatively impact your life. If you are caught driving after a night of drinking, you need to get started on your defense right away.

One thing that sets drunk driving cases apart from other cases is that there are some very strict time limits that you should be aware of in these cases. For example, you might need to appeal a driver's license suspension that is an administrative penalty associated with the charge. This is possible; however, you will have to ensure that you are in compliance with the deadlines that are set by any notices you receive.

Former Maryland teacher sentenced for sexual abuse of students

A former Maryland teacher has been sentenced to nearly five decades behind bars for sexual abuse of four children. He was found guilty by a jury earlier this summer of nine counts of sexual abuse and sexual offenses. The man has denied the charges and he pleaded not guilty.

He taught for over two decades at a Silver Spring elementary school and in the school system since 1991. He reportedly had many adoring students over the years and other supporters who spoke on his behalf at the sentencing, sent letters of commendation to the judge and showed up in the courtroom wearing t-shirts supporting him.

Binge drinking down but still an issue on college campuses

College is often the time when many young people first drink alcohol, even though they're still underage. It flows freely at many fraternities, sororities and other places where students party. Moderation in drinking or anything else can be difficult for young people to embrace.

In one survey, nearly a third of college students reported that they had engaged in binge drinking over the past two weeks. Binge drinking is defined as consuming at least five drinks in succession.

University of Maryland considers increased focus on sexual abuse

By an overwhelming margin, members of the University of Maryland Senate passed a bill to expand the university's sexual assault training programs. First through third year students would be required to have this training. So would university faculty and staff.

The bill requires the approval of UMD President Wallace Loh to take effect. The additional training would start in fall 2018 and be implemented completely by 2021.

Take statutory rape charges seriously

Statutory rape laws and the age of consent vary throughout the U.S. Here in Maryland, it's 16. That means that if someone has sex with a person under that age, he or she has committed statutory rape and could face criminal charges.

Whether an alleged statutory rape is charged as a misdemeanor or felony and the level of the offense depend in part on the specific act(s) alleged and the ages of the people involved. It may also depend on whether a defendant has previously been charged with a sexual offense, whether drugs or alcohol were involved, and whether a pregnancy resulted from the act.

Biking under the influence is illegal in Maryland

Many Marylanders of all ages take to their bicycles during the summer, either for exercise, sightseeing or simply to get around town. Most people don't consider their bikes to be vehicles, so they don't think there's anything wrong with having a few drinks before hopping on their bike after a picnic, wine tasting tour or pub crawl. The law, however, sees things differently.

Laws regarding biking while under the influence aren't as consistent throughout the country as they are for drunk driving. It's not illegal in all states. However, it is here in Maryland. If you are caught riding a bike while under the influence of alcohol, you can also be charged with public intoxication and reckless driving. Young people can face underage drinking charges.

Controversy surrounding Greek Life in college

While there are certainly many positives to Greek Life– including learning leadership building skills, having a sense of community in college and being introduced to different service opportunities – the negatives have recently been the main focus for many fraternities and sororities across the country.

In one of the more recent cases, a 19-year-old died after a hazing incident. The details surrounding the case are no doubt hard to hear about. Add to this stories tied to binge drinking, large and loud parties and allegations of sexual assault, and it makes sense that the entire Greek system is coming under scrutiny.

Maryland delegate's drunk driving sentence reduced by judge

A Maryland state legislator only has to serve serve two days behind bars for a DUI charge from last summer. According to the judge in the case, he suspended most of Delegate Richard Impallaria's 60-day sentence based on the circumstances behind his arrest, which he described as "lying in wait."

Impallaria, who represents Harford and Baltimore counties, was arrested last summer in Ocean City while he was attending a conference of the Maryland Association of Counties. According to local news sources, an officer saw that the man's empty truck contained a beer. The officer reportedly waited for him to return to the vehicle, start his engine and open the beer. He then arrested him. Imparallaria's blood alcohol content at the time was 0.07.

Should Maryland have mandatory minimums for DUI homicides?

The Maryland General Assembly passed a bill that went into effect last fall called Noah's Law. The law implemented stricter penalties for people convicted of DUI offenses. However, some Marylanders say that the penalties for DUI homicide are still not strict enough.

Under the current laws, those who are convicted of homicide by motor vehicle while driving under the influence can be sentenced to up to five years in prison and fined up to $5,000. Those penalties double for a second DUI homicide conviction.