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The perils of underage drinking

On Behalf of | Jun 21, 2023 | Drunk Driving

College is a time when young people are on their own for the first time in their lives. They forge friendships that could last a lifetime. They make memories of fun times and celebrations. However, many of those occasions involve alcohol consumed by those not legally allowed to drink.

Alcohol legislation first gained prominence during prohibition. It’s repeal in 1933 launched a minimum drinking age for all states that saw most setting the age at 21. The first half of of the seventies saw a majority of states reducing the minimum drinking age anywhere from 18 to 20.

An increase in motor vehicle accidents saw states go from 18 to 19 for legal drinking. The National Minimum Legal drinking Act of 1984 mandated all states to set the minimum age at 21. States that did not comply would see a significant percentage of federal highway funds taken away. Two holdouts where Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Guam before they complied in 2010.

Potential criminal consequences

Which brings the matter to the present. Drinking in college – legally or illegally – remains a rite of passage for many, but not all students, provided that no one is harmed by the activity. However, the moment a college student gets behind the wheel of a car while under the influence puts lives in danger. Far too often, that milestone is life changing, skewing into a harsh reality when they see blue lights shining in their rear-view mirrors.

While criminal problems are the initial concern, more long-term effects can impact academic pursuits. Students on scholarships could see that much-needed financial support taken away. Additionally, on-campus housing could come to a sudden end. Colleges with strict rules against drinking can only add another layer on to the consequences.

For students and their parents, the stakes are high and futures are at stake. However, being pulled over and subsequently arrested for drunk driving does not equate an automatic conviction. The human error factor by law enforcement can play a significant role in a wrongful accusation and arrest.

Help from an attorney skilled in this area of criminal law can potentially put a college student back on the academic path.