Ringsmuth, Day & O’Halloran, PLLC - Fort Myers Criminal Defense
Former Prosecutors

Driving isn't necessary to be arrested for drinking too much

Spring break will start for students at Florida Gulf Coast University before you know it. Whether this is the first year your college student will participate in festivities, you caution him or her not to drink alcohol, especially to excess. However, you may understand that college-age kids may not heed your advice, so you advise your child to at least refrain from driving if he or she drinks.

However, your child doesn't have to drive to get into trouble for drinking. You could still get the call you dread, letting you know that police arrested your child for an alcohol-related offense. Now, your child may contend with not only a criminal charge, but also repercussions for a violation of the student code of conduct.

The charge is public intoxication

Your college student may have arranged not to have to drive after drinking by remaining close to the university or on university grounds. While you may applaud this choice, he or she failed to keep in mind that being intoxicated in public could also result in an arrest. Most states consider public intoxication to rise to a criminal level if a person's blood alcohol content reaches or exceeds .08, and/or if his or her behavior is disruptive, inappropriate or violent.

Depending on where you live, the law could identify this offense as public intoxication, disorderly intoxication or drunk and disorderly. Regardless of the name, it could lead to a conviction that remains on your child's record. Moreover, it could also result in an administrative hearing at the university, and your child could face penalties from the school that include expulsion, suspension and more.

A bad decision could mean a criminal record and, perhaps more importantly, a disruption in his or her education. Make no mistake; your child's future is at stake. As a parent, you want your child to learn a lesson from this experience, but allowing him or her to suffer the consequences alone could be a mistake.

The outcome doesn't have to ruin the future

The question becomes whether your child should sacrifice a future to learn a lesson. More than likely, you will quickly realize that the answer is in the negative. To help your child through this, he or she needs experienced representation for both the criminal charge and the university's administrative hearing. With the right help, it is possible to minimize the impact of this error in judgment and help your college student to get back on track toward his or her future.

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