Most college students experiment with alcohol. Some drink occasionally and some become binge drinkers. Many feel they are able to drive when they have only had a few beers, but that is a bad idea.

Some college-age drivers think a DUI is nothing more than a simple traffic offense, but you should be aware that it is far more serious and can have long-ranging consequences.

An education for first offenders

There are both civil and criminal aspects to a DUI conviction. North Dakota is a zero-tolerance state, which means that if you are under the age of 21 and testing indicates that your blood alcohol content was 0.02 percent or above, you are in legal trouble. If you are convicted of driving under the influence, and this is your first offense, you are guilty of a Class B misdemeanor. Penalties may include a fine of up to $500 and your license can be suspended for 91 days, which could seriously affect your ability to get back and forth to classes.

The 24/7 Sobriety Program

Depending on the circumstances surrounding your arrest, the court could order you to participate in the 24/7 Sobriety Program, which could help you obtain a temporary, though restricted, driver’s license. You will be responsible for the fees associated with the program. These could include breath testing, urinalysis or, if deemed necessary, a bracelet requiring a daily monitoring fee of $5.00.

Affecting your future

A criminal defense attorney will tell you that a DUI on your record can seriously disrupt your college career. It could cause you to lose scholarship opportunities, financial aid and even student housing. In a worst-case scenario, you could be suspended or expelled from school. A DUI can also affect your prospects for future employment. You would not be accepted in a teaching position, for example, and you would not be able to go into any profession that requires a license.

The bottom line is that a DUI is more than just a traffic offense. Enjoying a few beers with friends is one thing, but think about the consequences before you get behind the wheel.