How to help your college child avoid underage DUI

On Behalf of Sanchez Burke, LLC

Classes are coming to an end at many institutions of higher learning in Louisiana, and summer is fast approaching. This means your college child may be coming home. Whether your kid plans on working, relaxing or even staying on campus during summer break, you need to address an important topic: underage DUI.

Your child may be a legal adult but still qualify as a minor according to drinking laws. Of course, drinking is a common part of college life, so your student needs to be aware of the major legal consequences that can follow from making poor choices surrounding alcohol use.

Know the law

First, make sure your child knows the state law. In Louisiana, those below 21 years of age cannot have more than a 0.02% BAC, whereas the legal limit for those above 21 is 0.08%. Even so, underage DUI charges can still occur regardless of BAC if a driver shows obvious signs of impairment.

Review the penalties

Next, let your child know what will happen if he or she drives after drinking. The state does not offer special treatment for underage offenders. As of 2007, all penalties are the same regardless of age, whereas before, minors had a shorter license suspension period. In addition to a loss of driving privileges, penalties for DWI may include:

  • Fines
  • Court and license reinstatement fees
  • Jail time
  • Education programs

The judicial system is not the only worry your child will have, however. Colleges have their own disciplinary systems separate from the courts and may enforce harsher punishments, even without a conviction. Your child may lose scholarships, receive suspensions from classes and/or sports teams or not be eligible to return in severe cases.

Formulate a plan

The goal here is not to scare your child, but to empower her or him with information. Help your son or daughter make realistic plans, whether it is not drinking at all or always having a reliable form of transportation home after partying (designated drivers are not always safe, as many do not end up staying completely sober). Review what to do at a DWI stop to prevent your child from hurting his or her case.

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