Just because underage drinking is a common practice, particularly near and even on college campuses, it does not mean that authorities will not attempt to punish underage drinking to the fullest extent of the law.

As is the case with other campus crimes, getting convicted of an offense related to underage drinking can cause long-term consequences, even if a long stint in jail is, thankfully, not on the table.

For instance, in addition to probation, fines, and fees, an underage drinking conviction comes with a mandatory license suspension. For the first offense, a young person’s driving privileges will be suspended by the state Department of Transportation for 90 days. A second offense will lead to a one-year license suspension, and a third offense will lead to a two-year license suspension.

Moreover, depending on the nature of the offense, a conviction for an offense related to underage drinking can leave someone with a misdemeanor on his or her permanent criminal record. It is also important to note that mandatory fines may apply, and, even if it seems unlikely, there is always a possibility of jail time.

The bottom line is that a person accused of underage drinking needs to take that charge for what it is, a serious criminal case that can have long-term consequences about which one might not even think.

Fortunately, there are options available for those college students who may have been caught underage which will help mitigate any fallout from the conviction.

Moreover, there are those occasions in which a person may be at the wrong place at the wrong time, say at a party where alcohol is being consumed when authorities show up. These sorts of situations can lead to an unfounded or even false accusation of underage drinking, in which case the right strategy might be to pursue a dismissal of the charges.