Students voice opinions on SJC’s DUI Policy

SJC holds public meeting to discuss possible changes to its code of sanctions for a DUI

Kieran McQuilkin

Washington and Lee’s Student Affairs Committee will soon discuss the merits of codifying a more specific punishment system for drunk driving.

The Student Judicial Council held an open meeting on May 4 to discuss its handlings of students involved in drunk driving incidents.

As it stands, a student charged with a DUI must go through an SJC hearing. Being over the legal driving limit of a .08 blood alcohol concentration requires a hearing according to SJC policy, while anything over a .15 BAC leads to an immediate minimum one semester suspension.

Catherine Salm, ’15, asked the SJC why there is no codified sanction between a BAC of .08 and .15. The SJC responded that there would still be a hearing but sanctions depend on the circumstances of individual cases.

“Is there some sort of rubric you follow when making decisions?” asked Briyanna Scott, 3L. The SJC reinforced that it shies away from codifying sanctions because of the varying nature of drunk driving incidents.

This lack of explicit language on sanctions is also an inherent value of the EC, which handles each honor violation charge individually, without pre-mandated punishments.

Several students questioned whether a drunk driving incident should be dealt with by the EC as well, because it could potentially break the community’s trust.

The honor violation system states that any student can bring a case to the EC, regardless of its topic.

Also discussed was the lag between a charge for DUI and a conviction.

Salm added that DUI sanctions lose most of their momentum before an SJC hearing because there is often a long time between an arrest and a conviction. However, the school is liable to lawsuits if they place DUI sanctions on a student who is ultimately not convicted of the crime.

The SJC said it would discuss potential changes to its .15 BAC “limit” when it meets with the SAC in the next two weeks.

However, since the SJC is hesitant to codify a uniform punishment for drunk driving, the proposed changes remain unclear.

If the sanctions are changed, they would be in full effect by the next academic year.