College Students, Alcohol, And DWI

Guest Author Marina Salsbury, not affiliated with the St. Louis law firm of Sansone & Lauber. Marina Salsbury planned on becoming a teacher since high school, but found her way instead into online writing after college. She writes for Online College Classes and other sites about everything from education to exercise.

Each fall parents send their children off to college with a combination of pride and worry. Aside from meeting new people, registering for classes online, and getting to know a new place, parents know their children will probably have their first experiences with alcohol at college if they haven’t already, it’s not something they like to focus on. Unfortunately, DWIs and college students are a very real combination.

Approximately 900,000 people are arrested for DWI each year. Of these, close to 100,000 are college students. This means 11 percent of DWI arrests across the nation are college students and approximately 12 percent of these college students will be critically injured or killed.

Aside from traffic collisions, DWI charges can have serious ramifications for students, especially those under 21 years of age:

  • Students under the age of 21 can face additional charges as well as DWI if they are caught driving intoxicated.
  • When given a breathalyzer test, in many states those under 21 are considered intoxicated at much lower blood alcohol levels than those of legal drinking age.
  • Students under the age of 21 can face stricter penalties and stiffer fines compared to those people over 21 when charged with DWI.
  • Being charged with any crime, including DWI, may be in violation of a college’s code of student conduct, and penalties from the school can range from probation to expulsion.
  • Aside from DWIs, alcohol-related incidents on college campuses are on the rise. Statistics for college students between the ages of 18 and 24 indicate:
  • Sex: 100,000 students have reported being too intoxicated to recall whether or not they had consented to sexual intercourse. 97,000 students reported being the victims of sexual assault or rape.
  • Criminal Activity: intoxicated students are frequently involved in assaults, vandalism, criminal damage, or have been involved with campus security in some manner.
  • Death: 1,825 students are killed in alcohol-related incidents (not including suicide).
  • Dependence: 31 percent of students can be considered abusers of alcohol while 6 percent can be considered dependent.

Students on college campuses are often away from home for the first time in their lives. Meeting new friends, partying, and other college social activities often revolve around alcohol. While many young people experiment with alcohol without any short- or long-term ill effects, there are those who do face serious consequences. DWI charges are just one of the many things that can go wrong. Students who think they can drive safely after drinking not only endanger others’ lives and their own, but often find themselves on a short track to academic probation or worse.

For parents, teaching children to be responsible about alcohol and its consumption will benefit them most. Be sure to sit down with your children before they leave for college and talk about alcohol, partying, and their possible ramifications, especially when it comes to driving. By having an open and honest conversation with your children you may very well lessen their risk of becoming an alcohol-related statistic and, more importantly, you may be saving their lives.