Beginning of school season in Florida heralds drinking charges for some

Many high school and college students drink during the school year. This could result in drunk driving charges and other consequences.

It is almost time for college students across the country to return to school. The colleges in Florida are reputable places to get an education, but some are particularly known for their "party" nature. This is partly due to Florida's favorable climate and attractions.

During the late teen and young adult years, many students may engage in the social pastime of drinking with friends. While this is legal and acceptable for those over the legal drinking age of 21, many young people begin drinking at a much earlier age. By the time they reach college, they are already well used to social drinking and its associated activities. This could result in underage charges. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, about 3,360,000 students across the country between the ages of 18 and 24 get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol.

A rite of passage that is not always positive

College drinking is seen as a rite of passage to many students. Whether they are over the legal age or not, many engage in drinking as a way to be social and make friends, to celebrate adulthood and being on one's own for the first time, or simply to cope with the pressures of classes and school life. According to the Prevention Resource Center, college students have numerous opportunities to binge drink, including the following:

  • Parties before, during and after athletic events
  • Fraternity or sorority parties
  • Social drinking in dorm halls or off-campus residences
  • Bars that are close to the school campus

College drinking can result in numerous consequences, in addition to drunk driving charges. For example, drinking lowers inhibitions and affects judgment. A student may get in trouble for taking advantage of another intoxicated student. Students with false identification could end up getting caught and have to handle the resulting charges. In addition to the legal and criminal aspect, universities may heavily penalize underage or illegal drinking. This may include suspending the student's financial aid or expelling him or her.

How might parents help their children avoid such consequences as they leave home for school? The Florida Institute of Technology has provided the following tips:

  • Visit a child in college whenever the opportunity presents itself.
  • Keep in close contact with the student through telephone, email or social media.
  • Make sure the student understands what is expected of him or her during the college years.
  • Discuss with the student how heavy drinking can impact his or her education, legal interests and freedom.

By remaining close and involved with college students, parents may help the transition go smoother, as well as keep the lines of communication open in case a student needs help. An experienced criminal defense attorney in Orlando may also be able to help if a student ends up in legal trouble.