Guest Blog By Sarah Illg:
As a University of North Georgia Alumni, my heart will always be in the beautiful gold rush college town of Dahlonega. I graduated from the Dahlonega campus, while my husband graduated from the Gainesville campus. We have chosen to make our home in North Georgia where we will build our family.
College is an experience unlike any other. Anyone who has gone or is currently enrolled at UNG knows Dahlonega is a tight knit community. I was heavily involved in campus life as a member of a sorority and a student athlete. I met many of my lifelong friends at UNG. I look back and remember the great memories I made while a student at UNG, but I also have memories of friends and acquaintances that found themselves in legal trouble while enrolled as a student.
Unlike most colleges, the University of North Georgia is a dry campus. This means there is a strict no alcohol policy on campus. Alcohol is not allowed in dorm rooms or college apartments; it is not allowed at sporting events, and it is not allowed within the boundaries of the campus.
As a result, many students are ultimately arrested for possessing, using, or being under the influence of alcohol. The result can be lost athletic scholarships, lost HOPE scholarships, and damage to a person's academic standing. For Cadets, such an arrest can lead to a lost military career. College can be some of the best years of your life, but with one mistake everything can change.
UNG Campus Police and the Lumpkin Sheriff's office are highly alert and vigilant in Dahlonega. If you have been on campus longer than a few days, you will know this by the number of parking tickets you will have received. THEY ARE ON IT! I experienced this myself as a Freshman.
However, let's be honest, you are not as worried about a $25 parking ticket if you are running late to class, versus facing the humiliation of walking in late to class. You are worried about being stopped for a DUI in Dahlonega on the way home from Johnny B's, or being cited for Minor in Possession when you decided to have a drink at a Greek Life party, a few months shy of turning 21.
Here are some tips to avoid an arrest in my favorite college mountain town:
- Uber & Lyft: When I was in school at UNG, Uber did not exist. We had to rely on friends as DDs and many times “friends” were unreliable. Take advantage of ridesharing services. A $10 fare on a college budget may not sound appealing, but an Uber ride is much less expensive than the legal fees of a Lumpkin County DUI Lawyer and fines associated with a Lumpkin County DUI Arrest. Hiring a Dahlonega DUI Lawyer is outside the budget for most students and will require most UNG students to contact their parents.
Don't Chance It: Hiding alcohol will not work. UNG uses a system of checks to determine if students are drinking or hiding alcohol on campus. If you are staying in on campus housing, the Resident Assistants (RA's) pay close attention to your daily activities. By staying on campus, you have contractually agreed to allow your dorm room to be searched.
This means your RA can search your room for alcohol and illegal substances at any time. As a freshman that lived in Donovan Hall first year, I saw countless students suspended from school for having alcohol on campus. Your college education is important. Do not risk being expelled over a bottle of vodka in the closet of your dorm room.
Be Careful and Vigilant when Attending Social Gatherings: When you pull down the street and hear the music rumbling and see signs of a party, remember the police can see and hear the same thing!
The UNG Campus police and the Lumpkin County Sheriff's Office know their town. They are paying attention and know exactly what is going on. Neighbors and locals have no problem reporting loud noises and disturbances to the Lumpkin County Sheriff's office. If enough calls come in, the Sheriff's office will pay a visit. The person responsible for the house as the renter or the organizer of the party is held accountable for any underage drinking at the party. Dahlonega MIP citations are passed out like tickets to a sporting event, and before you know it, dozens of students have an uphill battle before them, trying to preserve their future careers.
If you know there will be underage students consuming alcohol at a party that you plan to attend, it may be best to change your plans. Meet instead with other people, over the age of 21, at the Crimson Moon or the Oyster Bar, and then take Uber home
Corp of Cadets: The military at UNG is what defines my favorite gold rush town. I have fond memories of running around campus for early morning cross country practice while the cadets chanted and the cannon fired off. The Corp of Cadet's provides a fast track opportunity to an officer position in the military, straight out of school. The University of North Georgia is one of six senior military colleges in the nation. The Corp prides themselves not only in military training but also in their high academic standing and utmost moral character. It goes without saying that just like the military, the Corp of cadets does not take lightly to those that break the law. Punishment is swift and sure.
The student handbook for the Corp states that any illegal contraband found in the barracks, as a result of a routine search, will be used against the cadet in disciplinary proceedings. When contraband is found, discipline may include loss of scholarships, room arrest, loss of privileges, community service, a reduction in rank, discharge from the Corp, or even expulsion from the university.
Furthermore, while other students can partake in tobacco use, in the designated areas of campus, the cadets are prohibited from using any form of tobacco. This includes the use of smokeless tobacco, anywhere on campus.
Disciplinary action with the Corp falls into three categories, Class I through Class III, with Class I being the most severe. Not only will a cadet face punishment through the legal system after an arrest, but they will also face serious consequences on the military side as well. Students in the Corp have much more to lose than most students if they are arrested. That being said, it is possible to convince the Corp to withhold punishment until after the disposition of a person's criminal case. As a result, hiring the best Dahlonega DUI Lawyer is very important.
Do Not Consume Even One Drink and Get Behind the Wheel: Many students may feel like they are safe to drive because they do not feel "drunk." However, being drunk is not the standard for being under the influence in Georgia. For those over the age of 21, the legal limit is .08. At .08, most people barely feel buzzed. It is a low standard.
Furthermore, a person can be charged with a DUI for being a less safe driver, even if they are below .08 or they refuse testing.
Additionally, for those under the age of 21, the legal limit is only .02. As a result, almost any amount of alcohol will show a reading above .02. Do not risk an arrest for DUI. The stakes are too high, and the legal limit is quite low.
If you have been arrested for DUI, do not mistakenly believe a DUI will come off your record in a few years. A conviction for driving under the influence will remain on your criminal record for life. As a young student looking to enter the professional work force or the military after college, keeping your criminal record clean is essential. The only thing you want to follow you after college is your amazing memories and a diploma, not a terrible mistake that led to a conviction.
As my boss Richard Lawson has said many times, there is hope if you have been charged with a crime. If you have been cited for a Minor in Possession or Underage Consumption ticket and you were not arrested, there is still hope in keeping the charges off your criminal record.
Whether your case is pending in Dahlonega Municipal Court or the Lumpkin County Probate Court, there are alternatives to having a lifetime criminal record. Do not assume you can handle your ticket or arrest on your own. You need the help of a Lumpkin County Criminal Defense Attorney.
If you have made a mistake, your situation is likely not hopeless. Do not let your college education and future career be jeopardized by one wrong decision. Call us for a free consultation today. Our Dahlonega Attorneys know the ins and outs of the Lumpkin County court system. Richard Lawson started his career as a prosecutor in the Lumpkin County District Attorney's Office.
We are here to work for you so you can get back to making college the best and safest years of your life. GO NIGHTHAWKS!
Sarah Illg is a Law Clerk at the Law Office of Richard Lawson. She is a graduate of the University of North Georgia and a graduate of Mercer School of Law awaiting her bar results.