If your teen is facing a DUI charge, you’re no doubt concerned about the potential effect of a conviction on their future – both in the short term and long term. If that future includes applying to colleges within the next year or so, could a DUI limit their choices?
Private colleges and universities can typically ask about a potential student’s criminal history. Public schools are governed by state law. For example, a few years ago, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed the Ensuring Access to Higher Education Act that limited the types of criminal offenses and disciplinary actions that state universities could inquire about on applications. The idea is that young people shouldn’t be prevented from going to college because of mistakes they made in the past. State schools are also prohibited from rejecting a student based on their criminal record.
However, that leaves plenty of other schools, both in and out of Colorado where a DUI conviction could be a barrier to being accepted over thousands of other qualified applicants. Further, even if they get in, a criminal record can affect their ability to secure financial aid.
Nonetheless, you definitely don’t want your teen to lie about a criminal record or leave out information they’re required to provide. It’s better to find out the policy for each school and, if they have to disclose the information, be prepared to talk about what they learned and how they’ve changed.
It’s best, of course, to avoid a conviction if possible. If your teen has been arrested for drunk driving, it’s crucial to seek experienced legal guidance. You want to do everything possible to protect their rights and minimize the consequences of this mistake.