If you are a student at a Florida university and have been arrested for DUI, you have even more to worry about than the criminal proceedings pending against you. Most Florida higher education institutions have a rule against driving under the influence in their student code of conducts. This means that you will also face a student disciplinary hearing in addition to court proceedings for your DUI charge.
In Florida, it is possible to be charged with a DUI offense under Florida Statute 316.193 if you have any level of alcohol or controlled substance in your system. This is because the law provides for impaired driving as well as a “per se” DUI offense of a BAC over .08%. For underage drivers, there is a zero tolerance policy implemented making it illegal for individuals under 21 to drive with a BAC over .02%. That’s less than one drink for the average person.
Once you have been arrested and charged with DUI, it may be necessary for you to take steps to officially inform the appropriate school entity. For the University of Florida, this is Student Judicial Affairs. At other schools, the process of reporting may be automated between the designated department and law enforcement. Some schools may have both. Whatever the case, it is critical to review your school’s Student Code of Conduct as soon as possible after the incident to determine necessary initial action.
It is important to note that, depending on the school, disciplinary action may still be taken if you are not charged, or charged but not convicted, of the DUI offense. It is also possible if the event occurred off campus. For instance, it is a violation of the UF Student Code of conduct to “[operate] a motor vehicle while impaired or with a [BAC] at or above the applicable legal limit.” Therefore, according to the Scope and Violations section of the UF code, the university can punish the offense separately if the DUI offense:
• Arises from participation in university activities
• Poses a significant threat to the safety or security of the university community
• Poses a significant threat of undermining the University’s educational process.
Once the school’s designated entity is officially informed of the DUI incident, you will receive official notice of your hearing. Other parties are allowed to be present at the hearing, but not to speak for you – though witnesses may speak in favor of your case. You are allowed, however, to have an advising party during the hearing. A Florida DUI defense attorney can help you assemble your case as well as be your advisor during the hearing.
The final determination of the hearing will decide if you are responsible or not responsible for the violation. If you are adjudicated responsible, the university or college will impose sanctions on you, which vary by school and code of conduct but include:
• Loss of school privileges
• Educational requirements
• Removal from athletic teams
• Registration hold
• Graduation hold
Penalties for a DUI violation of the code of conduct could also reach beyond school into your future. Students studying in the fields of education, law, medicine, and pharmaceuticals are particularly at risk. No matter what field you are studying, if you have been charged with DUI you need to begin your defense for both your criminal and school disciplinary proceedings as soon as you can.