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College Students Charged with DUI

Going away to college comes with challenges. During their freshman year, young people begin to assert their independence from their parents. During that time, too many young people take chances with driving home after having consumed an alcoholic beverage or ingesting a controlled substance.

Hillsborough County has more DUI arrests than any other county in the state even though it is only the fourth most populous county. DUI enforcement officers in local police departments in the Tampa Bay area target college students for a DUI arrest.

In fact, the University of South Florida Police Department sets up several checkpoints or roadblocks during the year to find students driving under the influence on or near the campus. Other officers sit outside student housing to stopped students as they enter or exit the parking lot.

When a university or college student is arrested for DUI, the consequences are more serious because the student might face disciplinary action on campus for a violation of the student code of conduct, in addition to facing the criminal charges in court.

Attorneys for College Students Charged with DUI in Tampa, FL

The attorneys at the Sammis Law Firm in Tampa, FL, represent college students charged with a wide variety of criminal offenses including driving under the influence of alcohol (also known as “DUI”).

We most frequently represent students from the University of Tampa (UT) and the University of South Florida (USF). We also represent college students at any disciplinary action that is scheduled at USF or UT after the DUI arrest for a violation of the student code of conduct.

Click here to read more about our Recent Case Results in DUI Cases.

We are familiar with the issues faced by these students and the best ways to fight the charges for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In most of these cases, the charge is for a first DUI because the student has no prior DUI arrest or criminal record of any kind.

Contact one of our DUI defense attorneys in Tampa, FL, for a free consultation. You can discuss your case either on the phone or in the office.

Find out what you should do right now to protect yourself after this serious accusation for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Act quickly to demand a formal review hearing of the administrative suspension within the first 10 days after the arrest.

Call (813) 250-0500 today.


The Disciplinary Hearing at the University after a DUI Arrest

Students at local colleges and universities face common issues including a disciplinary hearing for a student conduct code violation, especially if the DUI arrest occurred on or near the university or if the university police were involved in the arrest.

In many of these cases, the university will attempt to kick the student out of their dorm room or student housing.

In fact, officers will often ask the person arrested where they attend school and record that information on their booking profile. That triggers their booking profile being sent to a local university even if the student was arrested off-campus. Obviously, if the school does not learn of the arrest, then the school will not take disciplinary action.

An attorney can help you through that process with the goal of avoiding any notation in your academic record.


DUI Enforcement by the Police Departments at UT and USF

Many of our clients attend the University of Tampa (UT) or the University of South Florida (USF). USF has its own police department and procedures for dealing with a student arrested for DUI.

We are familiar with the tactics used by the DUI enforcement officers at the University of Tampa Campus Safety and the University of South Florida Police Department.

If the college student is arrested off-campus for DUI in Hillsborough County, FL, the arresting officer can be from one of the following agencies:

  1. Tampa Police Department (TPD);
  2. Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO);
  3. Florida Highway Patrol (FHP);
  4. Plant City Police Department (PCPD); or
  5. Temple Terrace Police Department (TTPD).

Police who are employed by state universities are authorized to enforce all traffic laws when violations occur on or within 1,000 feet of any property or facilities under the guidance or supervision of the university. §316.640(1)(a)1.b., Fla. Stat. (2016).

Effective July 1, 2013, the Florida legislature made sure that this rule also applied to officers employed by the Florida College System (FCS – formerly community colleges). § 316.640(1)(a)1.c., Fla. Stat. (2016).


DUI for a College Student under 21 Years Old

Many college students arrested for DUI are under 21 and face an administrative suspension administered by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles even if they blew under the legal limit for a DUI of .08.

Even if the student is not arrested for being “under the influence” because only a small amount of alcohol was consumed, the officer can still initiate a civil penalty called the “administrative suspension” for driving with a BAC of only .04.

In these cases, the officer will typically ask the young person to blow into a handheld breathalyzer at the roadside and then released them at the scene. If the person refuses to submit to a lawfully requested breath test, then the administrative penalties can also apply.

After receiving notice of the administrative suspension for the zero-tolerance suspension, the student should immediately seek out an attorney to file a demand for a formal review hearing within 10 days of the notice.

The formal review hearing is held at the Bureau of Administrative Review of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles on Hillsborough Avenue. The hearing must be held within 10 days of the notice. If the arresting officer fails to appear at the hearing after receiving a subpoena then the hearing officer is required to invalidate the suspension.

The formal review hearing allows the attorney to fight to have the suspension invalidated so that any mention of it can be erased from the driving record. If the suspension is not invalidated then it will remain on the driving record for the next 75 years.


Criminal Penalties for College Students Arrested for DUI

In addition to any administrative action, the officer can also make an arrest for DUI. Enhanced penalties apply if any of the following circumstances are proven:

  1. a passenger in the vehicle at the time of the offense was under the age of 18 years old;
  2. the driver had a breath or blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .15 or above;
  3. this offense is a second or subsequent offense; and
  4. an accident or crash occurred that caused damage to unattended property, an unoccupied vehicle, or an occupied vehicle.

Felony charges for DUI can be charged if this DUI is a third offense within 10 years of any prior offense or an accident occurred that resulted in serious bodily injury or death.


Additional Resources

University of Tampa on DUI – Visit the website of the University of Tampa (UT) to learn more from the Dean of Students about the consequences of drunk or impaired driving. The article explains the penalties for a first DUI, a second DUI, and related charges for DUI with property damage or injury to another. The article also discusses the consequences for willful and wanton reckless driving and failing to stop and render aid (leaving the scene of an accident). The website also provides information about the assistance available on campus for students who have substance abuse problems or who know others who have problems. UT’s substance abuse prevention program is under the direction of the associate dean of wellness, while the organizational alcohol policy is a responsibility of the Office of Student Leadership and Engagement.

DUI Sobriety Checkpoints at the University of South Florida USF – Visit the USF Police Department (USFPD) website to find out more about its collaborative approach to traffic safety. The USFPD implements several DUI Sobriety Checkpoints on the USF Campus throughout the year. On the website, you can find a list of sobriety checkpoint press releases. For example, on August 11, 2018, the USFPD hosted a one-hour Comprehensive Roadside Safety Checkpoint on the USF Campus from 9:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. which was followed by a 6-hour saturation patrol.


Finding a DUI Attorney in Tampa for a College Student

The attorneys at Sammis Law Firm represent college students after a DUI arrest. Related charges often include under-aged possession of alcohol, possession of marijuana, driving while license suspended, or resisting arrest.

Call today for a free consultation to discuss the case. Our DUI defense attorneys provide a full-service defense to help the student fight the criminal charges in court, the administrative hearing at the DMV, and/or the disciplinary hearing at the college or university.

We are familiar with the procedures used at all area colleges including the University of South Florida (USF) and the University of Tampa (UT). Contact us today for a free consultation to discuss the case.

Call (813) 250-0500 today.


This article was last updated by Leslie Sammis on Tuesday, August 27, 2019.

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