Could a conviction for driving while intoxicated (DWI), public intoxication or underage drinking interfere with your college plans? Absolutely.

University applications commonly include questions about any criminal record the applicant may have. The application is also likely to have a note letting you know that you may face additional penalties for lying about a criminal record, including a future suspension from school or withdrawal of scholarships.

Arrests and convictions can even impact your future once a college admits you. They may result in your suspension or removal from student government, a sports team or a work-study job. Having a criminal record may impact your ability to retain scholarships or student loans necessary to attend school. You may also find yourself unable to secure a professional license required to practice your chosen career simply because you have a blip on your criminal record.

This is important to keep in mind right now, especially as prospective students are flocking to campus for visitation and active college students get caught up in the end-of-the-semester cycle of exams, parties and visits home. Sometimes, students may have a drink to calm their nerves or drink at parties — whether they’re legally allowed to do so or not. They often think that the police will turn a blind eye — but they won’t.

A conviction on your record for such an alcohol-related crime — particularly a serious one, like drunk driving — while you’re in college can derail your entire future. If you find yourself (or your student) facing charges, it’s important to work with an attorney who is experienced in college student defenses and the related issues.