As a new college student, you feel like you have the world at your fingertips. However, this is your first taste of independence, and the last thing you want to do is disappoint your parents while away at college. There are many temptations during this life phase, one of them being alcohol. And when a student is faced with underage drinking allegations, it can feel as thought his or her goals and ambitions are crushed.

Universities and colleges in Pennsylvania and elsewhere take a stance on underage drinking for both the health and safety of the students. Thus, if a student is accused of underage drinking, he or she may not just face hardships resulting from the criminal charges but could also experience penalties directly from the school they attend, thereby impacting their education.

How educational institutions respond to underage drinking

There are three basic ways a college or university could respond to underage drinking occurring on campus. First, they could simply ignore it and take up no stance on underage drinking among their students, they could implement policies that mirror the local laws or they could establish their own policies that restrict and punish underage drinking, which could mean harsher penalties than those established by local laws.

Legal requirements of colleges

At a minimum, the law requires educational institutions to follow four standards. It must provide students with information regarding the laws that regulate alcohol and drug use, implement their own penalties for when students break local, state, federal and campus rules, publicize the health risks associated with alcohol abuse and provide access to counseling, treatment and rehabilitation programs.

Possible penalties implemented by colleges

When a college implements their own penalties, this could result in consequences much worse than those resulting from an underage drinking charge. This could include the denial of financial aid, having the student place don probation, suspend or expel the student or even require the student to enroll in a rehabilitation program. Because these ramifications in conjunction with the criminal consequences could be significant for a young adult, it is important to consider one’s options when it comes to initiating a criminal defense.

Being charged with underage drinking can be a very emotional, confusing and eye-opening experience for a college student and their parents. This situation is not only just about the impact that the criminal charges could have on a student’s life but also the major disruptions it can have in the student’s education and future. Thus, it is important to understand what legal defense options are available and what can be done at the school level to help protect the student’s reputation and future.