Everyone makes mistakes, especially when they are young.

Making mistakes is a natural part of growing up; in most instances, it is the way in which we learn and mature. The problem, however, is not all mistakes are created equally and some may have unforeseen consequences. An example of such a mistake is a DUI charge as a minor.

Typically, a person gets behind the wheel of a car after one (or a few) drinks too many, but it is important to keep in mind that is not the only way to be charged with DUI. I don’t understand this sentence. What are the other ways to be charged with DUI? Whatever the case may be, if a person was charged with a DUI as a minor the consequences could follow him or her to college.

Many misconceptions regarding DUI’s unfortunately exist and perhaps may be more serious than an individual believed before finding himself or herself in a DUI situation. In South Carolina, a DUI conviction cannot be expunged and the charge is not eligible for the Pretrial Intervention Program. Also, a DUI conviction will remain on your driving record for 10 years. It will remain on your criminal records forever. The inability to erase a DUI can potentially create future issues, especially in the competitive arena of college applications.

How can a DUI hurt your chances at college?

Unfortunately, a DUI can be the tipping point between similarly situated applicants to a college. Most college applications contain a section that asks whether the applicant has ever been arrested and, if so, the outcome of the arrest. It may be tempting to answer “No” to the question, especially if the charge was a single, isolated incident that occurred while he or she was a minor. However, we advise you not to do that.

South Carolina is a “zero tolerance” state when it comes to minors operating motor vehicles under the influence of alcohol, meaning if a person is a minor and has a blood alcohol concentration of 0.02% or higher, he or she may be charged with a DUI. Therefore, it is important to explain a DUI conviction, rather than attempt to conceal it. If a person is able to explain a DUI and highlight the positive aftermath – such as participation in an alcohol counseling program or successful completion of probation – it may lessen the effects of the conviction; whereas concealing a conviction will never lessen such effects.

Can a DUI conviction affect college scholarships?

Apart from making the application process more difficult, a DUI may also impact the receipt of state-funded scholarships. For instance, the South Carolina LIFE Scholarship requires a one-year waiting period following a DUI conviction in order to be eligible to receive the scholarship. A DUI conviction does not automatically render a person ineligible for all scholarships, however, it may make it more challenging to receive them. It is important to review the rules and guidelines of the scholarship prior to application to know what to expect and the possible necessary alternative steps to eligibility.

How do DUI convictions affect financial aid eligibility?

Similarly, certain financial aid programs may be unavailable for you if you have been convicted of a DUI.

Make sure you know the rules for the financial aid program you are interested in before applying. For example, drug-related convictions disqualify you from the Pell Grant (a federal grant).

Before you apply for college or choose a career path, and prior to applying for a scholarship or financial aid, the key is this: Do your research.

DUI Convictions and Specialized Career Paths

While a DUI may be a stumbling block in some career paths, it can be more of a roadblock in others. Some careers require licenses, and a licensing board may disqualify applicants based upon criminal history.

That means even if you are accepted to the college of your choice and can afford to pay for it, you might still be unable to get a license that is necessary for your career. Here are some examples of careers that require licensing or certification:

  • Attorneys
  • Nurses
  • Medical professionals
  • Teachers

It is critical that you research your career path and determine if it requires special licensing before you move forward—otherwise, you may complete years of hard work only to find you cannot get the license you require to work in your field.

Charged with DUI? Talk to a lawyer!

Attorney Timothy Kulp is 1 of 7 Board Certified Criminal Defense Attorneys in South Carolina. With nearly 40 years of experience as a Judge, Prosecutor, FBI Special Agent, and Defense Attorney, Mr. Kulp will do absolutely everything that is both legal and ethical to achieve the result that you desire.

Contact Kulp & Elliott to help guide you through your next steps, or call 843-853-3310 to schedule a free case review.

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