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DUIs and Your Education

By January 16, 2023No Comments

There is a common misconception that driving under the influence (DUI) charges only impact those who work for a living. The little-known truth is that a DUI conviction also has the potential to ruin one’s educational endeavors.

Particularly if you rely on financial aid to pay your tuition and/or room and board, a DUI conviction will put this important financial support in jeopardy.

At DC Student Defense, our experienced student defense team often represents students facing academic or legal consequences regarding alcohol. From experienced student defense attorney Shan Wu, read on for a rundown of what happens after a college student is charged with a DUI.

DUI and Financial Aid 

When applying for financial aid to cover the cost of college tuition, one must fill out the FAFSA. This acronym is short for Free Application for Federal Student Aid.  Though the FAFSA does not inquire about DUI convictions, it asks applicants about drug convictions. If you are found guilty of DUI yet no drugs were involved, you will likely retain your financial aid.  

However, if you were caught driving drunk and had drugs in the vehicle, there is a good chance you will lose your financial aid.  Drivers can be charged with both DUI and drug possession. Plenty of those who take the risk of drinking while driving also use drugs.  In many cases, these drivers have drugs in their possession when pulled over for DUI.

Thankfully, convictions that are removed from your permanent record or convictions that occurred before the age of 18 typically do not count.

Colleges Care About DUIs

Plenty of colleges mandate applicants list their arrests and criminal convictions on the application for acceptance. 

DUI offenses must be admitted during this line of inquiry. Sadly, a single DUI conviction has the potential to result in denial of admission. Multiple DUIs will likely prevent admission to the vast majority of colleges and universities.

However, some colleges are willing to admit those with a single DUI conviction if they agree to complete or have already completed an alcohol counseling program. Fail to disclose your DUI on your college application and you might be denied admission on the grounds of falsifying your application based on the university’s nuanced admission policy.

When it comes to DUIs, there is no overarching rule or guideline that pertains to all universities. Each college or university sets policies that determine the impact of a DUI conviction or arrest before and after admission. Certain colleges will require students to report any type of arrest to the administration in a specific time frame.

Failure to report this information can result in a suspension. Those arrested several times for drunk driving will likely be either temporarily or permanently suspended from attending classes even though they have already been admitted to the academic institution. Unfortunately, any type of suspension has the potential to impact financial aid eligibility.

A DUI Conviction Can Preclude Eligibility for Scholarships

A DUI conviction has the potential to affect eligibility for financial aid in a variety of ways.

Federal financial aid can be withheld from those with felony DUI convictions.

Just as important is the fact that those convicted of DUI will not be eligible for many private scholarships and financial aid programs. The nuanced requirements for such private financial assistance are dependent on the rules established by the organization in charge of the lending/scholarship program. Some such organizations are primarily concerned with an applicant’s felony convictions. Others will inquire as to whether the applicant has been arrested or convicted of any type of offense, be it a DUI or something else entirely different. 

The moral of this story is that students seeking any form of financial assistance to obtain a college degree should know a DUI arrest has the potential to prevent them from obtaining the money necessary to cover the cost of post-secondary education.

Charged With DUI?  Contact DC Student Defense Today

If you would like to earn a college degree and/or are in need of financial aid, a DUI conviction has the potential to derail your plans.  Do not enter a plea without consulting with your legal team. Your plea can have a considerable impact on your financial aid eligibility. Reach out to DC Student Defense today so we can review your case and determine the appropriate legal strategy to safeguard your education, financial aid, and ultimately, your life chances. 

Shan Wu

Author Shan Wu

Shan’s professional and personal background gives him a unique understanding of academic institutions and the criminal justice system. A former federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C., he is at home in D.C. Courts and very familiar with all of the Washington, D.C. law enforcement agencies, especially the Metropolitan Police Department. His parents were university professors so he grew up in a university environment. He understands the mindset of academic institutions. As a prosecutor, he supervised in the misdemeanor crime section. This is the section of the Washington, D.C. prosecutor’s office that handles most college student cases. His understanding of charging decisions and how judges view these cases is invaluable to his student clients and their families. Shan served as a federal prosecutor in the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia for over ten years. During his tenure there, now Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. appointed him to supervisory positions in the Misdemeanor Trial Section and also in a police corruption task force. His outstanding legal work in the government was recognized through numerous Special Achievement Awards from the Justice Department as well as awards conveyed by law enforcement agencies and community groups. From 1999-2000, Shan served as Counsel to Attorney General Janet Reno, advising her on criminal and civil investigations, E-Gov, E-Commerce (electronic signatures, internet gambling, internet telephony, privacy & public access issues in electronic court filings), congressional oversight, and legislative review. His responsibilities included serving as liaison to the FBI, DEA, Criminal Division, Executive Office of United States Attorneys, National Institute of Justice, and White House Counsel’s Office. Shan serves on the D.C. Bar Association’s Hearing Committee of the Board on Professional Responsibility and is a past president of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association for the Greater Washington, D.C. area. He is a 1988 graduate of Georgetown University Law Center, where he graduated Order of the Barristers, edited two law reviews, and was Co-Director of the Moot Court Program. He holds a B.A. in English Literature from Vassar College as well as a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. Following law school, he clerked for the late Hon. Jerry Buchmeyer, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, and the late Eugene Wright, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He is admitted to practice law in the District of Columbia and Connecticut.

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