College Student DUIs: Special Considerations

It is not uncommon for Knoxville college students to be arrested for drunk driving. When this happens, it is important for both parents and students to know what to do in order to protect your legal rights. An arrest does not equal a conviction. A conviction can have many collateral consequences for college students, so it is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible. At Barnes Law, our experienced Knoxville DUI attorneys know how to defend all criminal charges related to impaired driving effectively. Call 865-805-5703 today to schedule your free consultation.

Disciplinary Actions Taken by Your School

The most immediate consequences a college student might face is disciplinary action from his or her school. Not every school will discipline a student for a drunk driving arrest that occurred off-campus. However, the choice to bring disciplinary proceedings against a student — and the type of discipline he or she will face – is entirely up to the school itself. These proceedings can vary greatly according to the whims of a particular school. Some allow the right to counsel and other forms of due process. Others do not. Because this discipline does not occur in the criminal court setting, there are no constitutional rights to protect a student.

The best way to protect your rights at a disciplinary hearing is to consult with an attorney as soon as possible. Even if you do not have the right to be represented at the disciplinary hearing, an attorney can help prepare you for the process. By knowing how to present your case and what the procedure will be, you can be better prepared for a successful outcome.

Admission to Graduate Programs

Many undergraduates are either considering or actively preparing to attend graduate school. A DUI conviction can present challenges in the application process. Many graduate schools ask applicants about their criminal history (and other matters related to the applicant’s moral character). A conviction is not necessarily an automatic disqualification from the program. In many cases, the applicant has the opportunity to explain the circumstances of the case. This is why it is so important to have an experienced DUI attorney handling the criminal case from the beginning. The attorney can also help you present the case to a graduate school admissions committee in order to preserve your chances of admission to a graduate program.

Professional Licensure

Professional licensure is required for a vast number of jobs in today’s society. Doctors, lawyers, accountants, veterinarians, dentists, civil engineers, and many other professionals must be licensed by the state before they can legally practice their work. Many paraprofessionals must also be licensed. Nurses, dental hygienists, veterinary assistants, hair stylists – the list goes on an on. The applications for almost all of these licenses require disclosure of arrests or convictions. For college students preparing to enter the workforce, a DUI conviction can have devastating consequences in attempting to gain professional licensure.

Like school discipline, the decision to grant or deny a professional license is largely up to the governing body. This gives an applicant the opportunity to present his or her case to the issuing agency. Again, it is important to fight DUI charges from the start to prevent a conviction that should never occur. Later, an applicant will have the opportunity to present his or her case to the issuing agency, and an attorney can help prepare the applicant to make the strongest possible case. In some cases, licensing agencies have already set hard and fast rules for denying professional licenses. For example, Section 1260-01.01 of the Rules of the Tennessee Real Estate Commission prohibit felons from either taking the real estate test or being considered for licensure for two years after the end of conviction, incarceration, parole, or probation. (This restriction also applies to misdemeanors involving the theft of money, services, or property.) As a result, a person convicted of a felony DUI will be unable to get a real estate license during that time. Other administrative rules and statutes can apply to various other professional licenses. This is why it is important to have legal counsel both during the initial criminal case and later during the process of applying for the professional license.

Future Employment

One of the biggest concerns all college students face is the availability of employment. New graduates plagued by the student loan crisis are often faced with the necessity of finding a well-paid job (or several less-well-paid jobs) immediately after graduation. This can be a problem for an applicant with any type of criminal history. Tennessee is one of the few states that have not enacted laws protecting job applicants in the private sector. Employers are generally allowed to ask about prior arrests and convictions.

However: there are still some protections under federal law that might protect you from discrimination based upon a prior arrest or conviction. The Fair Credit Reporting Act protects you from inaccurate or incomplete information in a criminal background check. This is important when critical information about your case is not clear from the public record. For example: what if your case was expunged? What if the arrest did not lead to a conviction? What if the crime is mistakenly reported as a felony when it was actually a misdemeanor? This is important information which could lead a potential employer to disqualify you from employment improperly. Job applicants also have rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits racial discrimination in employment. This applies to both hiring practices and treatment of current employees. Because conviction rates are so much higher among racial minorities, a hiring practice that excludes all convicts could be seen as discrimination on the basis of race. The Equal Opportunity Employment Commission has issued guidelines that require employers to consider each particular criminal offense on a case by case basis.

Charged with DUI? Call Us Today to Schedule a Free Case Evaluation with an Experienced Knoxville DUI Lawyer

A DUI in college can have dramatic consequences for a student’s future, but these problems can be mitigated by early consultation with an experienced DUI lawyer. By fighting improper criminal charges as soon as possible, you can clear your record, and help prevent future problems in education and employment. Call Barnes Law at 865-805-5703. We fight hard to protect your legal rights and mitigate the consequences of a DUI conviction. With the help of a skilled DUI attorney, you can work through DUI charges to make your future as bright as possible.