Underage Drinking at Western Michigan University
In Michigan, underage drinking was historically charged as a misdemeanor in all instances. As of 2018, this is no longer the case; now only second-time and subsequent underage drinking offenses are charged as misdemeanors.
Although the reality is that underage students will and do drink alcohol regularly, this does not undermine the seriousness of this charge. An underage drinking conviction can have many consequences for a student. These include criminal consequences and consequences from his or her university, such as the revocation of scholarships, removal from student housing, and even expulsion.
Underage Drinking Charges and Penalties
Under Michigan’s old underage drinking law, all instances of underage drinking were charged as misdemeanors. An individual found guilty of underage drinking faced up to 90 days in jail.
Now, a first-time underage drinking offense is charged as a civil offense, the penalty for which is a $100 fine. An individual’s second underage drinking offense is charged as a misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $200. For a third offense, an individual faces up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.
Related Charges College Students Can Face
Underage drinking is not the only alcohol-related charge a college student can face. Even students over the age of 21 can face criminal charges for providing alcohol to underage students. Other charges students can face in relation to on-campus drinking include:
- Possession of fake identification documents;
- Operating while intoxicated (OWI); and
- Public intoxication.
Consuming alcohol can also cause students to behave in ways they normally would not. In some cases, these behaviors can result in being charged with other offenses, such as:
- Sexual assault;
- Vandalism; and
- Indecent exposure.
Fighting an Underage Drinking Charge
It is possible to fight an underage drinking charge. Your lawyer will determine the most appropriate legal defense strategy for your case, which could involve:
- The lack of evidence linking you to an offense;
- The lack of admissible evidence to support the charge;
- Demonstrating that despite being underage, you were drinking legally as part of a religious ceremony, for government purposes, or for educational purposes; or
- Your constitutional rights were violated in some way during the investigation of the case, such as an officer illegally searching your vehicle.
Do not assume that a charge is not worth fighting. Fighting your charge is an investment in your future liberty and opportunities.
Work with an Experienced Grand Rapids Criminal Defense Lawyer
When you or your child are facing an underage drinking charge, start working with an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible to fight the charge. As the defendant or the parent of the defendant, you need to be proactive about developing a legal defense strategy. To get started with our firm, contact Van Den Heuvel Law Office today to set up your initial legal consultation with a member of our team.