Heading off to college means trying new things, and that often includes alcohol. But irresponsible college drinking can get you arrested, and the consequences could haunt you for years.
It's not just college students under 21 who need to be concerned. Students over the legal drinking age can also be held liable for alcohol violations, by themselves and by others.
Here are five ways college drinking can get you arrested:
Underage possession or consumption. Underage drinking is a common college-age rite of passage, but it comes with big risks. Some states will suspend an underage drinker's driver's license, even if a motor vehicle wasn't involved. There may be exceptions, however, if an underage drinker is on private property or if a family member provided the alcohol.
Drunken driving. States use a variety of terms for this -- DUI, DWI, or OVI, just to name a few. Consequences differ by state but can generally include jail time, hefty fines, driver license suspensions, and the installation of an ignition interlock device. Repeat offenders and those who get into crashes or cause injury or death can fare far worse.
Public intoxication and disorderly conduct. These catch-all crimes punish unruly or obnoxious behavior, and are commonly used against drunken college students. But for the charge to stick, a violator must be in a public place -- a technicality that could be key to a student's defense.
Social host laws. Holding a house party where alcohol is served opens the door to potential legal liability. Laws may hold you responsible for drunken guests who drive away from your party and end up hurting someone. Hosts, including groups like fraternities and sororities, can face potential liability for failing to supervise their parties, especially if someone is hurt.
Public urination. When you gotta go, you gotta go. But going No. 1 in public, or on someone else's private property, is a common way for drunken college students to get arrested. Indecent exposure charges are also possible, for obvious reasons.
The best advice is to steer clear of unlawful situations. But if college drinking gets you arrested, an experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to get your charges reduced, or perhaps lessen your punishment to alcohol education and community service.