Imagine the end of a long school week after a couple of midterms. You may figure, “Hey, I’m gonna release some stress.” Maybe you’ll celebrate the weekend by keeping it classy and taking Patron shots with your friends, or maybe you’ll want to keep it cheap and shotgun some Natural Ice.
Either way, imagine you end up being “that person” who was so wasted and everyone wondered the next morning, “What happened to so-and-so?”
Whether you’re of age or a minor, the consequences of a night of heavy drinking can be costly both legally and financially.
Any person found driving with a blood alcohol level of more than 0.08 may be charged with a DUI. The consequences of a DUI can be anywhere from 48 hours to six months in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, driver’s license suspension for six months or until a DUI program is completed, and vehicle impoundment for up to six months.
According to a 2005 survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 39 percent of car crashes that ended in fatalities in all age groups involved alcohol.
Many students know they could get a DUI if arrested while driving under the influence, but many don’t fully understand all of the legalities involved in being charged with a DUI.
“I only know that I might get taken to the police station and may be questioned or get put in jail for a few hours,” said architecture sophomore Gabby Robinson.
Campus police mainly deal with students who are drunk in public, meaning they can’t care for themselves or others (minors in possession), said University Police Department Chief Bill Watton.
He said students involved in these types of criminal activities are arrested and potentially have to deal with the legal consequences, including going to court and paying fines if they are charged.
“First and foremost we look at safety in these situations and providing the necessary care, if needed, until an ambulance arrives,” Watton said.
The financial cost of being transported to the emergency room because of alcohol poisoning is costly as well. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that college students between the ages of 18 and 22 who are fully enrolled in college are more likely than peers in the same age demographic to have used alcohol, to binge drink and to drink heavily in the past month.
According to Chris Javine, general manager of San Luis Ambulance, the base rate for being transported to the hospital in an ambulance is $1,505.85 and $19.85 is charged for each mile driven in the ambulance.
Other fees may be charged for services required to care for the patient in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. These fees include $76.62 if oxygen is required and $19.18 if infectious or disposal supplies are used.
“All of these services could potentially be necessary when being transported in an ambulance,” Javine said.
Javine said that in the past 12 months an ambulance went to Cal Poly 75 times, having to transport 39 individuals. There are no statistics showing how many of these transports were alcohol-related.
Additionally, the medical costs incurred while being cared for in the hospital can be expensive and vary depending upon what care is needed, whether the student has insurance and whether the insurance covers alcohol poisoning.
Many students feel the college-aged demographic would still drink heavily, despite knowing the potential high costs that could result.
“I think a lot of students know how expensive it is, but still choose to drink heavily anyways,” mechanical engineering senior Joshua Baime said. “I think the only way students will change is if they have some sort of intimate experience with the consequences of heavy drinking.”