Special considerations may apply to underage drinking charges

Although partying may be a component of the college experience, facing a charge for underage drinking should not be. Indeed, a conviction for underage driving under the influence can have devastating consequences on future employment and career goals.

As a recent article reminds us, another unfortunate collateral consequence of underage drinking may be sexual assault allegations. For both the accused and the alleged victim, a sex crime investigation can present a substantial privacy invasion and damage to one’s reputation.

When a criminal allegation like underage drinking or sexual assault happens on a college campus, there may be an option of presenting the matter to a school disciplinary panel, instead of to local police officials. The difference could be substantial, possibly involving the difference between an academic suspension and felony charges.

An attorney that focuses on criminal defense and underage DUI charges will have insight into which forum might provide for the best outcome. Even if referred to local authorities, however, an individual charged with underage drinking may be able to build a strong defense. First-time offenders are often positioned to negotiate with prosecutors for a better outcome. In addition, an attorney can review any arrest reports to determine if police followed proper procedures. If a chemical or field sobriety test was improperly administered, the results may be found inadmissible at trial.

Penalties like a jail sentence and license revocation are not inevitable consequences for a DUI charge. If arrested for underage drinking or another DUI offense, make sure you request the right to an attorney and avoid making incriminating statement to the police until that counsel arrives.

Source: The New York Times, " Reporting Rape, and Wishing She Hadn’t," Walt Bogdanich, July 12, 2014