On average, less than half of college students are 21 and over, yet night after night the bars are full and the booze is flowing. Since everyone does it, it must be fine right? Not really.
Underage drinking, the need to hide the fact that students are drinking is the number one contributor to the ‘binge-drinking culture’ found on most campuses. Students cannot drink openly and as a result, they feel the need to conceal their drinking and drink more because they are unsure when they will be able to get away with doing so again. In addition to these dangerous and intangible consequences of drinking underage, there are some very severe consequences for underage drinkers who get caught.
Underage Consumption Tickets:
In most states, underage consumption/possession of alcohol is a misdemeanor offense, that like any other misdemeanor (possession of marijuana, reckless driving, simple assault, etc.) will remain on your criminal record if you are over 18. The ticket will cost anywhere from $100-250 depending on the amount of alcohol in your system. One night of drinking can translate into not getting a job or being denied from graduate school because you have a criminal record. While many employers will overlook an underage citation, medical professionals and education professionals will not.
A detox facility is a cross between a hospital and a jail. Most counties have them and their purpose is to take people who are too drunk to a safe place where they can be of no harm to themselves or others. Students who have an experience with detox do not remember it fondly. Most do not remember being sent to detox, so they wake up in a foreign place, scared. In addition to the shock of being there, Detox does not just cater to underage drinkers, drug users, the homeless, and all walks of life get to enjoy the services of a Detox Facility. People sent to detox must stay there until their blood alcohol content returns to zero. This depends on your BAC when you wake up. It can be a few hours or as many as 24. A stay in detox will cost around $400. Your wild night in college has cost around $600 so far!
Consequences with the University:
If you were caught drinking in the dorms and your RA called the university police or university public safety, you will get more than just the ticket. If you are sent to detox, see number 2. When you return, a residence life coordinator will contact you with an incident report and request a meeting. Odds are, on the first time, you will not be kicked out of housing. Any subsequent violations could result in your removal from housing, educational sanctions, being placed on probationary status, and expulsion from the university. Severity is a huge factor here. The RA will not call the police automatically, but if you look like you need to go to detox or are not being cooperative, this is what you’re looking at.
These are the consequences for going out on the town on a Friday night if you’re underage. Be careful, be smart, and be safe. Now that you are informed, make sure you handle things accordingly.