Alcohol-Related Crimes and the Effects on College Students

Possession or consumption of alcohol during the college and university years is common. According to the Alcohol Rehab Guide, about 80% of students reported drinking at least some alcohol. And while drinking at sports events, parties, and other activities can be acceptable, certain behaviors involving alcohol consumption may be against school policies or illegal, especially for those under 21 years of age. Unlawful alcohol use or possession can significantly affect college students’ lives. They can face decreased school performance, disciplinary action from their college or university, and/or criminal charges.

At Keegan, Tindal & Jaeger, our Iowa City lawyers understand the impacts of alcohol-related crimes on students. That is why we work hard toward favorable outcomes. Schedule a consultation by calling us at (319) 499-5524 or contacting us online.

Alcohol-Related Crimes College Students Can Be Charged With

For many students, the college or university years are the first time they have been on their own, away from the guidance and structure of their parents. Eager to fully experience higher education life, students might participate in activities where alcohol is served. However, some might not be aware of criminal charges that can arise from alcohol consumption or possession.

Below are a few alcohol-related crimes college students might commit:

Operating While Intoxicated

When most people think of alcohol-related crimes, their first thought may be of operating while intoxicated (OWI). In Iowa, a person can get charged with this offense in several ways. One is driving a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or more. Some college students might not be aware of how many (or how few) drinks it takes for BAC to rise to the legal limit. Feeling “fine,” they get behind the wheel, only to find themselves stopped or arrested on suspicion of OWI.

Another way to get an OWI charge in Iowa is to drive while under the influence of alcohol. Being under the influence means the person’s normal faculties are impaired because of the substance.

Impairment can include:

  • Decreased judgment
  • Blurred vision
  • Lack of coordination
  • Loss of motor control

A first-time OWI charge is punishable by 48 hours to 1 year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,250.

Underage Operating While Intoxicated

Most college and university students begin their higher education journey when they are 18 years of age. The legal drinking age in Iowa is 21. If a person under that age operates a motor vehicle with a BAC of 0.02 or more but less than 0.08, they could be charged with an underage OWI.

It doesn’t take much for a person’s BAC to reach 0.02. Just one beer or glass of wine may be enough to do it. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, about 7 million youths between 12 and 20 years of age reported having more than “a few sips” of alcohol in 2019.

A student convicted of an underage OWI can face a driver’s license revocation of 60 days.

Public Intoxication

While enjoying the festivities of whatever event they’re at, some college students might lose track of what they’re doing and take their alcoholic beverages to a public place. Unfortunately, it is illegal for anyone to consume alcohol on public streets or highways. Additionally, it’s unlawful to drink alcohol in an establishment that doesn’t have a liquor license or on public school property.

Public intoxication is a simple misdemeanor punishable by jail for up to 30 days and/or a fine between $105 and $855.

Minor in Possession

As noted before, the legal drinking age is 21. If a student younger than that buys, tries to buy, drinks, or possesses alcohol, they could be charged with minor in possession. The offense is a simple misdemeanor carrying a fine of $260.

Providing Alcohol to Minors

In Iowa, persons 21 years of age or older are prohibited from giving, selling, or supplying alcohol to those under 21. During college and university years, younger and older students might end up at the same events. If the older students provide alcoholic beverages to the younger ones, the older students could face criminal charges.

Providing alcohol to minors is a simple misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $260.

The Consequences of Alcohol-Related Conduct on Students

In addition to criminal charges and penalties, college and university students may face a bevy of consequences for engaging in alcohol-related behavior. Some might struggle to learn and remember information because the substance has affected their mental functions. They might also miss classes because they have been incarcerated or lost their driver’s license due to an OWI conviction.

Some colleges and universities also have policies concerning the use and distribution of alcohol on- and off-campus.

A violation of these policies could lead to the following:

  • Academic probation,
  • Substance abuse evaluation,
  • Suspension, or
  • Expulsion.

Contact Our Firm Today

College and university students facing alcohol-related criminal charges may benefit from having a defense attorney assist with their case. A lawyer can review the facts and determine what paths to pursue to protect their client’s future.

To discuss your case with one of our Iowa City attorneys at Keegan, Tindal & Jaeger, please contact us at (319) 499-5524.