Drinking Citations and College Students - You Might Want to Call a Lawyer

An underage drinking ticket in Wisconsin faces a penalty of a fine from $250 to $500 for the first offense. Many students believe that this is the end of their punishment and the consultation of an attorney is not necessary. Moreover, students wrongly think that if their drinking tickets take place off-campus, they are immune from disciplinary action from the University.

However, this is not the case. Recently, Universities have become increasingly strict about underage drinking and have started using these drinking tickets as a way to impose additional academic punishments.

According to one university’s student conduct policy, the university “reserves the right to investigate and subsequently take university action for behavior of students in off-campus situations.” Even more surprising to some students is that the university has the right to discipline students because of their actions while studying abroad. Universities have the power to discipline a student in a number of ways including:

• Positive Actions
• University Warning
• Restitution
• Fines
• Limitations on Activities
• Residence Life Probation
• Termination of Housing Contract
• University Probation
• Suspension
• Expulsion
• Postponement of Activity Participation and Conferring of Honors and Degrees
• Student Organization Disciplinary Actions.

Another misconception some students have is that if they are not yet convicted or are still in the process of fighting a criminal charge, then the university cannot impose a disciplinary action against them. The student conduct code states that, “the university may institute disciplinary proceedings against a student for a violation of the Student Code of Conduct, regardless of pending civil litigation or criminal arrest arising out of the same factual scenario.” What this means is that if the university catches wind of a students alleged actions, they can impose disciplinary action against that student.

What does this mean for students who receive a drinking ticket? Calling an attorney to help weigh your options is one of the best things a student can do. The ramifications of a drinking ticket may seem minimal at first until the student realizes what a suspension from the university can do to his or her future. For example, if that student plans on applying to law school, he or she will have to tell that law school about the suspension. When that student must apply to a state bar for admission, he or she will again have to disclose the suspension.

The help of an attorney can be extremely valuable to a student who has received a drinking ticket. [An attorney can] help guide you through the process of what to expect when the university imposes a warning, suspension, or even an expulsion. The university’s procedures are much less formal than any criminal trial. Students need to know what to expect prior to their first meeting with a representative of the university.

Steve McGaver has been with GRGB for more than a decade, starting out as a messenger and taking on almost every role in the firm. He now serves the firm as a Partner. Attorney McGaver is a 2006 graduate of Marquette University Law School (cum laude). As the son of a retired Milwaukee Police Officer he brings to the firm a level-headed and practical approach to problem solving that serves his clients well.

Copyright Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP
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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

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