Spring break for thousands of East Bay students is almost here. It is not only a time to take a break from classes and studying. For many students spring break is a time to let loose, hitting popular party locations like Lake Tahoe, Lake Havasu, or San Diego. While celebrating with other young people drinking and partying, it is important to remember that getting behind the wheel after drinking can land you in jail.
In college towns and spring break destinations around the country, local law enforcement are well aware of the academic calendars, and know when the students are out for spring recess. In the Gulf Coast area of Texas a couple of years ago, police made nearly 1,000 arrests during spring break, primarily for underage drinking and drug use.
Cops here in the East Bay are also well-prepared and on the lookout for drug, underage drinkers and drunk drivers. Many areas in California will see sobriety checkpoints popping up over the weeks around spring break, looking for intoxicated drivers and other vehicle violations.
While some of offenses that young people get cited for when having too much to drink may involve an open container, public urination, or public intoxication, some activities can result in lifelong consequences. Even if no one gets hurt, law enforcement takes driving under the influence very seriously. For college students over the age of 21, a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher is a DUI per se, and can lead to losing your license, thousands in fines and fees, DUI school, and probation in addition to a criminal record.
For drivers under the age of 21, under California's zero tolerance police, it is illegal to drive with any detectable amount of alcohol in the body. That means that even half of a beer can lead to an underage DUI arrest, including losing your license.
When a DUI ends in an accident, or involves a serious or fatal injury, the penalties can be much more severe. A 19-year-old student found out the hard way after his DUI landed him in jail. Bruce George was spending his spring break in Panama City when he crashed his vehicle, killing a 22-year-old. The college freshman was sentenced to 10 years in prison, and will also be required to speak to high school students about the consequences of drunk driving.
On top of the criminal penalties associated with a DUI, students may have to report their arrests to their school or university, and face separate disciplinary proceedings. Even after graduation, a DUI arrest may follow students pursuing graduate school or law school, requiring disclosure of any drunk driving arrest or other criminal violations.
Last year, a University of Miami study found that deadly car accidents increased almost 10% in popular spring break destinations while students were out of school. According to the author of the study, it was actually distracted driving that may have been a primary factor in the increased death toll, including driving while tired, and texting while driving. Regardless of the reason, it is important for students to be extra safe during this spring recess.
Spring break can lead to higher rates of driving under the influence, especially for underage drivers. At the Gorelick Law Offices, attorney Lynn Gorelick has dedicated her legal career to defending students charged with DUI offenses in the East Bay. With more than 30 years of criminal defense experience, she understands the penalties involved. Contact a local East Bay DUI defense attorney who understands that you don't have to plead guilty just because you were arrested.