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Orange DUI Blog

How a late-night study session could lead to a DUI charge

Two common defenses against DUI charges are: Driving badly does not necessarily equate to DUI, and physical appearance does not equal DUI.

Imagine this scenario: It is 5 a.m., and college student John has just left a friend's house where he had been studying for exams from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. They had a few beers, but the last one John had was a few hours ago. His eyes are red from exhaustion and allergies, and his hair is unkempt. His clothes smell slightly and have a few pizza sauce stains. On the way back to his apartment, he reaches down to change a song on the radio and drifts into the next lane. The next thing he knows, he is being pulled over and charged with DUI.

Are judges more lenient with student DUI charges?

There are big differences between being charged with DUI and being charged with underage DUI. Perhaps most obvious, the BAC thresholds are different. If you are 21 or older, you are unlikely to be charged with DUI if you have a BAC of, say, 0.04, unless it has come in tandem with behaviors such as excessive speeding or highly-reckless driving.

On the other hand, if you are under 21, you are subject to zero-tolerance laws. In other words, you can be accused of driving intoxicated if you have a BAC as low as 0.01 percent. The "good" news: If your BAC is 0.01 to 0.05, you likely will not face criminal DUI charges, although you stand to lose your ability to drive legally for one year. With a BAC above 0.05, you do face criminal DUI charges, and with a BAC above 0.08 percent, all the penalties an adult driver would.

Your choices in college can keep you out of DUI trouble

Your first year in college can be exciting. For the first time in your life, you are on your own and in control of your destiny. Your teachers will be treating you like an adult, and you may have a job, bills and other responsibilities that reflect your transition to adulthood. For you and many other new college students in California, drinking is one of the many activities you participate in.

However, there can be a downside to drinking in college. As we have explained in previous posts, you can face serious penalties for the decisions you make while drinking, including underage charges, property damage, assault and battery or drunk driving.

Academic consequences of a DUI conviction

As a college student in California, you spend most of your time attending classes and completing assignments. You may even have a part- or full-time job at the same time. Long hours of homework, the pressure to do well and financial troubles may cause you a lot of stress.

One way that you may relax is by hanging out with friends or going to parties. You may drink alcohol to loosen up. While there is nothing wrong with this if you are of age, you may make some mistakes while you are drunk. In fact, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism says that there is a higher rate of DUI incidences among college students than noncollege peers. If you face drunk driving charges, you have more than a criminal record and fines to worry about. A DUI conviction may also put your education aspirations in jeopardy.

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