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What is Binge Drinking?

Having a few drinks with friends may seem harmless, however, drinking too much too fast can quickly become very dangerous. Binge drinking can lead to many disasters, including DUI/DWI’s and sexual assault.

Binge drinking is an exceptionally dangerous and destructive drinking pattern that is defined as men drinking 5 or more drinks in a 2 hour period, and women drinking 4 or more drinks in a 2 hour period. While this behavior can be found among individuals of all ages, it is very prevalent among college aged students and frequently occurs on college campuses. While some people mistakenly confuse binge drinking and alcoholism, most binge drinkers are not alcoholics, and instead, choose to engage in this dangerous behavior.

Aside from the negative health effects that alcohol can have on drinkers, there are a host of serious dangers specifically associated with binge drinking. One of the most serious dangers associated with binge drinking, but one that is rarely discussed, is the emotional toll of binge drinking among college students. A lot of students who engage in binge drinking do so to manage some amount of stress or unhappiness. Rather than addressing their problems with a professional, far too many young people instead try to “relax” by drinking too much with their friends, and never tending to the deeper issues at hand.

Binge drinking also puts young people in a dangerous situation, as many find themselves too intoxicated to deal with any problems or difficulties that arise. This is especially true when it comes to sexual activity. Far too many young people report being the victims of sexual assault after having indulged in too many drinks, and many are left to deal with consequences like emotional trauma, unplanned pregnancies, and sexually transmitted diseases.

Additionally, according to the CDC, binge drinkers are more likely to drive while they are intoxicated than non-binge drinkers, making it more likely for these individuals to cause devastating or even fatal car accidents and find themselves in need of a DUI lawyer if pulled over and charged with an alcohol-related driving offense. This increase in drunk driving also puts these individuals, and everyone else around them on the road, at risk of being injured or killed in a drunk driving accident.

Fortunately, many schools and other institutions are becoming increasingly aware of the dangers that binge drinking poses to college students, and as such, are taking aggressive action to try and limit or stop this destructive behavior on college campuses.

Staying Safe from Sexual Assault on Campus

Moving to a college campus for the first time is an undoubtedly exciting experience. For many students, it’s the first time they have a real taste of independence. The freedom they feel is so boundless that some students become comfortable with the idea of committing crimes. No college is free from crime, but there are ways to protect yourself from becoming a victim.

Sexual assault is one of the most prevalent crimes on college campuses. Online investigative journalist magazine Investigate West estimates that one in five women on college campuses experiences some kind of sexual assault, most commonly date rape. There is a number of things you should do to prevent being a victim of date rape. For starters, never go out without a friend you trust, and make it a priority to stay together throughout the night. If you are drinking, do not accept a drink that you did not see poured. Better yet, always pour your own drink and open cans and bottles yourself. This way you can ensure that they have not been tampered with.

When walking on campus, especially at night, try to stay on more crowded and well-lit pathways. Many schools have emergency stations, usually marked by blue lights, that can be used to speak with or summon help if you feel as though you are in danger. Be aware of your surroundings and stay away from suspicious individuals. It may seem cold, but your safety is important. If you are walking around at night, it’s always good to have a friend with you. There is safety in numbers, and not being alone is a deterrent to potential sexual assaulters.

The point is not to live in a constant state of fear, but to rather have the knowledge that sexual assaults can, and unfortunately do, happen. Arming yourself with this information can prove useful in helping reduce your risk of being a target. If you happen to be a victim of an on-campus sexual assault remember that you are not alone and that there are a lot of people who are willing to help you.

Decreasing Drunk Driving on College Campuses

Drunk driving is an incredibly serious problem on college campuses across the United States, as colleges provide an environment in which under-age individuals can get relatively easy access to alcohol and in far too many instances, binge drinking is common, if not encouraged.

Drunk driving places everyone on the road in harm’s way, and can have devastating effects on unsuspecting, law-abiding motorists. Fortunately, many university administrators are taking action to try and reduce drunk driving incidents on and around their campuses. Some steps that university administrators have taken in recent years have included:

Initiating Safe Ride Programs: Safe ride programs can be run either by campus officials, or as a volunteer organization that students themselves participate in. With these programs, individuals who find themselves intoxicated off campus can call a number and receive a free ride back to their dorm or apartment. This discourages drunk driving, and helps to create a safer environment on roadways near a university, and helps students avoid criminal charges like DUI, DWI, OWI (in places like Wisconsin), or DWII (in places like Oregon). In most states, speaking with a DUI or DWI lawyer could help you alleviate the stress when issued a drunk driving ticket.

Cutting Out Student Courts: Many universities have student courts or disciplinary councils that establish penalties for students accused of crimes or violating school policy. However, in order to discourage more serious crimes, like drunk driving, many schools have decided that crimes of this nature will not be handled on campus, and instead, those charged with drunk driving will have to hire a drunk driving lawyer and defend themselves in the legal system, not on campus.

College Students Drinking

Creating Zero-Tolerance Policies: One incredibly effective deterrent that some schools have put in place is a zero-tolerance policy for drunk driving arrests. These policies basically state that if a student is convicted of drunk driving, they will be kicked out of school, even if it is a first offense.

Through these and other policies, school officials are hoping to limit the number of drunk driving incidents that occur on and near college campuses, and in doing so, keep their students, faculty, and staff safe.


The Dangers of Drinking on College Campuses

College brings with it a host of experiences for young people, some more beneficial than others. While many students are able to receive a world-class education and expand their knowledge base and understanding, many also experiment with destructive behaviors like drug use and excessive drinking.

While most students tend to consider a bad hangover to be the worst possible side-effect of a night of heavy drinking, there are actually a number of serious and potentially life-altering consequences to binge drinking and underage drinking on college campuses:

  • Death – According to a study in the Annual Review of Public Health, approximately 1,825 college students (ages 18-24) die in alcohol-related incidents, including drunk driving accidents
  • Drunk Driving (physical consequences) – Alcohol significantly impair’s a driver’s ability to safely operate his or her vehicle, exposing everyone on the road near a drunk driver to the risk of serious injury or even death in a drunk driving accident.
  • Drunk Driving (legal consequences) – In addition to the risk of injury or death that accompanies drunk driving, some students will make the decision to get behind the wheel after drinking, putting them at risk of being charged with an alcohol-related driving offense, like a DUI or DWI. Students face school-related penalties, like suspension and even expulsion, and more serious legal penalties. In some instances, students may need to secure the assistance of a DUI lawyer or another legal representative to help them avoid life-altering consequences, including overwhelming fines and jail time.
  • Assault and Injury – In the same Annual Review of Public Health study mentioned above, it is noted that 696,000 individuals between the ages of 18 and 24 have been assaulted by another student who was intoxicated.

In addition to the above-mentioned risks which directly threaten the lives and physical well-being of college students, there are additional educational risks associated with excessive drinking. Students who drink too much or too frequently often have difficulty keeping up with school work, maintaining good grades, and unfortunately, some may even fail out of school as a result.

Most Common On-Campus Criminal Offenses

Most college students want to believe that their college campus is a safe, secure environment where they are free to learn and have fun without the threat of serious danger. Unfortunately, crime on college campuses is a reality that far too many students have to contend with. The Office of Postsecondary Education of the U.S. Department of Education collects annual information on a variety of crimes that occur on college campuses each year. While these reports include all alleged crimes, the statistics are shocking in some respects.

At public, 4-year (or more) institutions with 10,000+ students, the most commonly reported criminal offense in recent years was burglary, with 6,712 burglaries reported in 2011, down from 7,241 the year before. These ratings are for on-campus events only, so these numbers do not reflect burglaries or alleged burglaries that take place in off campus student housing, like apartment complexes.

A far distant second to burglaries, motor vehicle theft is the second most reported criminal offense on college campuses of the above-mentioned size, with 1,349 reported motor vehicle thefts in 2011, up from 1,336 in 2010.

Finally, the third most commonly-reported criminal offense on college campuses is forced sexual assault, with 1,153 reported in 2011, which is a slight increase from 1,038 in 2010.

Depending on the offense at hand, crimes that occur on college campuses can be dealt with in a number of ways. For more serious criminal offenses like those listed above, non-campus law enforcement is often involved, and most of the individuals accused of these crimes will need to secure the assistance of a criminal lawyer to defend them.

However, for some smaller offenses, individuals may not need to secure outside legal representation, as the matter may be dealt with on-campus. Many large universities have student courts that deal with on-campus offenses, and for some offenses, students will simply represent themselves in front of this organization if charged with an offense.

Some crimes on campus are more severe and require higher authority. Campus police and courts can only handle cases to an extent.If your case needs more attention, you or your peer may need to speak with a lawyer about your legal options and the upcoming steps to seek out compensation. A criminal attorney from your state may be able to answer any questions that may arise from your situation. Seeking out the legal guidance for these type of situations may be helpful.


Enhanced Safety Measures on Some College Campuses

Because of the surprisingly high number of incidents like aggravated assault and sexual assault that take place every year on college campuses across the United States, many university officials are implementing various safety measures to try and keep students, faculty, and staff members safe on and around college campuses.

Different schools have employed different measures, all with varying degrees of success. Some schools have hired additional campus police officers to patrol campuses, hoping that their presence alone will be enough to prevent and deter crimes from taking place. Often, these individuals can be found riding bicycles or driving golf carts around campus to make their presence as widespread as possible.

Other universities have implemented alert systems, or emergency phones, throughout campuses, giving students and other individuals on-campus a quick way to contact authorities if anything goes wrong. In most instances, these systems are small posts that resemble light posts or payphones and are scattered throughout highly-trafficked areas on a college campus. If ever someone feels unsafe or notices an incident occurring, they can simply pick up the phone at one of these stations and be immediately connected to on-campus law enforcement.

Some schools have also implemented a safe ride program that primarily serves individuals who find themselves walking alone at night. With these services, students who find themselves working late and are worried about walking home alone can call the safe ride phone line and get a ride from their location to their dorm room for free. Usually, they are picked up in a golf cart that is driven either by a campus police officer or a volunteer if these programs are student-staffed.

Unfortunately, despite these safety measures, incidents of assault, sexual assault, burglary, and various drug offenses remain shockingly high on college campuses. When the measures above fail to prevent crime from occurring, perpetrators often find themselves in need of a criminal lawyer, as the charges against them include proposed penalties that extend far beyond school-ordered penalties, even when the accused individuals are students. To make sure that the recent graduate you may be hiring isn’t a drug offender, make sure to conduct a pre-employment test.

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Larry Benneth+