You probably know that the law prohibits you from drinking alcohol if you are younger than 21, but you may feel you are protected since you are no longer under the watchful eyes of your parents. However, the law still applies even to those in college. In fact, Maryland’s zero tolerance policy for underage drinking means you may be taking a great risk to consume alcohol if you are underage, especially if you plan on driving.
Zero tolerance means that if a blood alcohol test reveals even a trace of alcohol in your system, police will likely arrest you for underage DUI. You likely have many plans and goals. Your course of study may be moving you closer to achieving your dreams. However, few things can alter a promising future faster than a criminal conviction.
Putting your future on the line
Does the career you are planning involve obtaining a professional license, such as nursing or law? Do you hope to work with children, such as in the educational system? Are you reaching your goals with the help of a scholarship or grant? Violating the state’s laws by consuming alcohol while underage may seriously damage all those plans you have for your future.
If convicted of DUI, you will likely face the typical penalties such as thousands in fines and fees, possible jail time, probation, community service and losing your driver’s license. You can also expect a significant hike in your car insurance and a requirement to attend alcohol education classes at your own expense. As a college student, you also risk the following potential consequences:
- Loss of certain scholarships
- Loss of campus housing
- Elimination from certain academic programs, such as those leading to professional licensure
- Suspension or even expulsion from school
- Difficulty finding a job with a conviction on your record
Most Maryland institutes of higher learning have strict alcohol policies that include administrative penalties even if such violations occur off campus. The smartest way to avoid these heavy and potentially life-changing consequences is to postpone drinking alcohol until you are 21 and never get behind the wheel of a vehicle after drinking. However, if you find yourself in a difficult situation involving alcohol, you would be wise to seek legal advice and representation as soon as possible from an attorney with experience in civil and college administrative matters.