Preventing a child’s alcohol-related arrest while in college

Alcohol is a big part of many college students’ lives. Parents might develop a trusting relationship and establish goals to keep them on track.

The beginning of a new year in college can be an exciting time for college students in Tennessee, especially those who are just leaving home for the first time. University life has many rites of passages, not the least of which includes social drinking. While responsible drinking can be an acceptable way to unwind and develop friendships, it can also be disastrous for some of those attending a university.

One of the most prevalent issues facing college students who drink is drunk driving. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, approximately 3,360,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 get behind the wheel after having too much to drink. However, it is not only drinking and driving that college students have to contend with. Adjusting to college life can be difficult, especially during the first few weeks. Students may try to cope with the increased workload and stress by drinking heavily, which may open the door to many alcohol-related legal and criminal issues. These can include destruction of property, assault, trespassing and sexual allegations, to name a few.

The Prevention Resource Center states that there are many opportunities for college students to get involved in heavy drinking with their peers, possibly leaving themselves vulnerable to charges. In addition to fraternity and sorority parties, students often drink during athletic events or host game parties. Alcohol may be present in dormitories or at housing areas off-campus. Many universities have bars in close proximity, possibly resulting in drunk driving or fake ID charges.

Planning and goal-setting may increase a student's chances of success

With college drinking being so prevalent, how can parents ensure their child has the best chance possible at achieving a good education and having a positive experience while staying out of trouble? The following tips might help:

  • Develop an honest, trusting relationship and keep lines of communication open at all times.
  • Frequently check in with the student to find out how he or she is doing.
  • Visit the campus whenever possible.
  • Keep track of the student's grades and address the issue tactfully if there seems to be an issue.
  • Look for signs of depression, anxiety or substance abuse, and get professional help if needed.
  • If a college student is charged with a crime, do not accuse or overreact but calmly listen and approach the matter with sensitivity.

Having a trusting relationship with one's child may not prevent college drinking, but could help a student feel like he or she has someone to talk to before a drinking problem gets out of hand. It may also help to establish mutual respect between parents and students early on by setting education and behavioral goals and regularly reviewing them together.

It is not always possible to avoid criminal charges if alcohol is involved. Those who are facing alcohol-related consequences may wish to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney at Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers.