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What a DUI means for college students

It's that time of year: Classes are starting up again, athletic team practices are well underway, and college students across the state are reconnecting with familiar faces and meeting new friends. It's also the time of year for parties. Homecoming, Halloween, frat mixers and other get-togethers often result in an uptick in DUI arrests.

So what, exactly, can college students expect if they're facing DUI charges?

You won't have a criminal record

First, don't panic. A DUI is not a criminal offense in New Jersey. This means it won't go on your criminal record, and you likely won't get expelled. However, it is a serious traffic violation that will go on your driving record if you're convicted.

You will face other consequences

Make no mistake: A DUI can still make your life difficult in many other ways. For example:

  • You may have to spend time in jail or doing community service, which can interfere with your class schedule, athletic practice and other extracurricular activities.
  • Your driver's license could be suspended for up to a year or more, making it hard to get around.
  • You might have trouble getting certain housing or campus employment.
  • You may have to fork over significant sums of money for fines, legal fees and increased insurance rates.
  • Depending on your blood alcohol concentration, you might have to install an ignition interlock device on your car once you're able to drive.
  • If you participate in an athletic program, you could get benched or kicked off the team.
  • You could lose your scholarships or other financial aid.
  • You might have to disclose the DUI on an application for grad school.
  • If you're on a career path that requires a professional license - such as teaching or nursing - a DUI could impact your licensure later on.

Given these consequences, it's best to play it safe. If you have any doubt about whether you're over the legal limit - which is .08 percent or any amount for those under 21 - don't get behind the wheel. Your future self will thank you.

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