Drink, drive, go to jail

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 Illustration by Alexandra Nelipa

Illustration by Alexandra Nelipa

Students can face more than legal actions for drinking and driving.

By Aaron Martinez

amartinez1628@student.alamo.edu

Each year an estimated 3.36 million students between the ages of 18 and 24 drive while intoxicated, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Many soon learn that being intoxicated while driving has more consequences than jail time.

In Texas, the legal limit for intoxication is 0.08.

Texas’ Zero Tolerance law makes it illegal for anyone younger than 21 to operate a motor vehicle with any detectable amount of alcohol in their system.

“If I’m going to drink, I would bring a friend that I trust to get me home safe, knowing they won’t drink,” psychology freshman Victoria Calvario said. “It’s not smart to do that (drink and drive); I’ve seen my friends get arrested for it, and it’s only made their lives worse.”

For a first offense, a minor can be sentenced to pay up to $500 fine, attend an alcohol awareness class, complete eight-12 hours of mandatory community service, and the suspension of the driver’s license for 30 days.

The second offense is a fine up to $500, a possible alcohol awareness class of the judge’s choice, 20-40 hours of mandatory community service and the suspension of the driver’s license for 60 days.

“DUI is an extremely expensive mistake,” Tiffany Cox, criminal justice program coordinator, said. “I think DUI lawyers generally charge between $5,000 and $15,000 to handle a misdemeanor case. That’s a lot of money and that’s way outside the realm of what people can afford.”

The penalties for a first offense if of legal age is, a Class C misdemeanor that carries up to a $500 fine, alcohol awareness course, 20-40 community service hours, 60-day driver’s license suspension and 30-day ineligibility for an occupational license.

After a person retains their license, a service charge of $1,000 to $2,000 is to be paid each year for three years and if the person does not pay the service charge, a warrant will be made for the person’s arrest.

If a person does not keep up with it, the person will owe more fines, time in court and more lost days in school, Cox said.

If a student who attends the Alamo Colleges is incarcerated for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, that student still will be eligible for Federal Student Aid and scholarships.

“In my view, community college is about a second chance,” Mario Muñiz, director of district public relations, said. “Up to now, there are no rules against a student’s eligibility for financial aid and scholarships if they receive a DUI.”

Some universities have a strict policy; students who are incarcerated cannot receive a federal Pell Grant or federal student loans at other colleges; students can be awarded a Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant or a federal work-study grant but may not receive it because priority must be given to students who qualify for a federal Pell Grant, according to studentaid.ed.gov.

Drinking and driving also affects more than the driver.

Every day in America, 28 people die as a result of drunken driving, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

“I find that it’s quite irresponsible,” social work sophomore Melanie Reyes said. “I know people want to go out and have a good time, but you can have a good time without hurting somebody else when you get behind the wheel after you’ve been drinking.”

The family and friends of a victim killed by a drunken driver can experience a variety of reactions, such as feeling isolated, having a poor appetite and sleeping poorly or not at all.

They also may experience a loss of self-concern and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Cab services are available throughout San Antonio. If intoxication occurs, AAA Tipsy Tow or RUI Designated Drivers.

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