Overheard On Campus: Can my friend really get in trouble at college for a DUI he got off campus?

Contributed by Rebecca Smith, M.A., L.C.P.C., C.S.A.T., & Daniel Gittins, M.A.
Introduction by Tyler Achilles, B.A.

Accountability, accountability, accountability. Getting a DUI (driving under the influence) is a super-serious incident (no matter if it happens on or off campus), and I don’t think the first thing that comes to mind is whether or not my friend’s going to get in trouble back at school. There are some other really important things to consider here – drinking and driving?! C’mon guys … aren’t we past that? That’s probably one of the most dangerous things you can do while drinking, and it not only has the potential to affect you, it has the potential to seriously affect families, friends, and the community if you hurt someone else. Okay, that’s my rant about drinking and driving, and I understand this student probably didn’t want a lecture on that (wow, I’m starting to sound like my dad and I’m only 26). Sounds like this student just wants to get his head around the concept of consequences. I’m not totally sure how most campuses deal with these kinds of issues, so I thought I’d ask a few of our experts – answers are down below. For more Q&A, check out our Overheard On Campus series or log into MyStudentBody and check out the Advice section.

Student driving drunkRebecca Smith, counselor at Aurora University, says …

It depends on your campus. A lot of universities and colleges are stepping up their game when it comes to alcohol and marijuana violations. In the past several years, many schools, regardless of size, have decided to work closely with all police officials to handle on- and off-campus alcohol issues. If your school’s campus police are working closely with the city police department, it’s very likely the campus police will receive your friend’s DUI report. If your friend gets a DUI or other alcohol violation off campus, it’s now usually reported to on-campus officials for further discipline.

Understand that these rules and regulations are put in place to protect students and everyone else from the kinds of tragic accidents that have happened in the past. A tragedy involving alcohol can have huge effects for the university and the community. Therefore, many universities don’t take lightly any sort of alcohol and drug policy violations, whether they are on or off campus. Be aware of that the next time you drink.

Daniel Gittins, coordinator of alcohol and drug programs at Duquesne University, says …

At some universities, your friend’s off-campus behavior can impact his on-campus life. Fair or not (wise people can certainly debate that), it’s an issue that you and your friends will face in life after college, too, as actions outside of work can affect life at work. Additionally, this situation becomes more of a reality as things are increasingly regulated at state and federal levels. It’s a situation that students should learn from and prepare for.

You and your friend’s behaviors are yours to own. Most colleges and universities have social and legal “codes of conduct” that students are expected to uphold, both on- and off-campus. DUI’s are serious incidents and can absolutely impact a student on campus even if they happen off campus. Many times, incidents that occur off campus are reported to on campus officials, who most likely will follow up with their own investigation of the situation. Expectations for upstanding behavior from peers and the campus community do not take a break and are not excused on weekends or after 9 p.m. Your behavior matters.

Do you have any friends that have gotten in trouble at school because of something that’s happened off-campus? Share your story in the comments!

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