Students in Fairfax are commonly charged with many different alcohol-related violations. The most common include drunk in public or public intoxication, also known as DIP, underage drinking or possession of alcohol, and open container violations.
In Fairfax, public intoxication is any time an individual exhibits the signs and symptoms of being intoxicated while they are in a public area. The signs and symptoms of public intoxication vary, but they usually include an individual that is unsteady on their feet or trouble walking without assistance, bloodshot eyes, odor of alcohol, and various other indicators that officers might identify that would bring them to the conclusion that a person was under the influence of alcohol.
Public intoxication and underage possession of alcohol are different because underage possession of alcohol is a person who may not be exhibiting any symptoms of alcohol consumption, but has any amount of alcohol in their system.
Minors are not allowed to be in possession of any alcohol, whether in their body or physically in their possession. Underage public intoxication differs because the person has to be exhibiting the signs and symptoms of intoxication in order to be charged with the offense.
A person could technically be charged with both public intoxication and underage possession, but an officer will usually pick one or the other to charge an individual with. To learn more review the student defense resources page.
Depending on the defendant’s age, the consequences for alcohol-related crimes can vary. Regardless of whether a person is over or under 21, the crimes are misdemeanors under Virginia law and a conviction will result in a criminal record for the rest of a person’s life. If an individual is under 21, they could have their license suspended, or be ordered into an alcohol safety program. For any age, a person might face a sentence of a hefty fine or time in jail, depending on the circumstances of their case.
The approach that colleges and universities take to alcohol violations depends on the university but is always a low tolerance approach. In addition to the criminal offenses, the individual would be also subject to university sanctions, which could result in disciplinary actions. These actions could be anything from suspension, administrative sanctions on the student within the university, or even expulsion. Additionally, a college could require community service, or alcohol or substance abuse classes, in addition to whatever criminal sanction the individual is facing through the court system.
Alcohol-free zones are designated areas of the university in which alcohol is not allowed whatsoever. These zones could be dorm rooms, halls where classes are held, or even entire campuses.
If a person violates the alcohol-free zone policy, not only are they subject to whatever sanctions could result from criminal charges but will also be subject to more severe university sanctions. For example, providing alcohol or hosting a party in an alcohol-free zone could result in getting kicked off campus or a suspension from the school.
The effects that an alcohol offense could have on a person’s education would vary depending on what the person wants to do or the specific school the person is attending. Underage intoxication or public intoxication are criminal offenses and therefore, an individual would probably be required to disclose it for employment purposes. Also, they would face all the other sanctions that come along with the criminal conviction.
Administrative suspension or other notes in their academic file could affect their ability to graduate from college, transfer to a different school, or to apply to graduate school. It will follow an individual and affect their ability to move forward in their life.
If a student needs medical attention and is drunk on campus, that student should call for an ambulance or 911 right away. An individual’s health is not something to take chances with, and a lot of schools have some forgiveness policies or will not charge a person administratively for an incident that requires medical attention and is proactive in seeking help.
For example, George Mason University provides some kind of ability to avoid consequences should they seek medical attention for intoxication, but it depends on a case by case basis.
Having the medical services come and determine through the course of their investigation of an individual’s health, that they are intoxicated and need assistance, could result in a criminal charged if the police are called. That being said, the situation in its entirety should be taken into consideration.