I frequently get calls from individuals facing mandatory suspension at Miami University because they have accumulated “two strikes” or “three strikes” depending on the situation. By this, students are referring to Miami’s policy whereby if a student receives two intoxication offenses, three alcohol-related offenses, or two dishonesty offenses, the student must be suspended for at least one semester. Students and parents often do not understand what does and does not qualify as a “strike,” and they are further taken aback by the harshness of the sanctions. Unfortunately, I am not able to tell you that Miami’s policy is less harsh than it sounds, but I am able to help clarify which situations should concern students and parents, before reviewing some preventative steps.
So what counts as a strike? First, Miami has two types of alcohol violations, possession/consumption and intoxication. If a student is merely in possession of alcohol, or merely consumes alcohol without being intoxicated, then we call that a “105(b)” (the relevant code section). If a student is intoxicated OR exhibits “negative behavior associated with the use of alcohol,” then we call it a “105(a).” If a student receives two 105(a)s (intoxications) within a two-year period, then that student must be suspended for at least one semester (two strikes and you’re out). Note that two 105(b)s do not mandate a suspension (although Miami could impose a discretionary suspension). If a student receives three of any type of alcohol violation, either 105(a) or (b), within a two-year period, then that student must be suspended for at least one semester (three strikes and you’re out).
Second, if a student receives two dishonesty violations (we call them 102s, after the relevant code section) within any time period, then that student must be suspended for at least one semester. Dishonesty violations include both possession of fake IDs and academic dishonesty (i.e. cheating on a test) (two strikes and you’re out).
So now that you know what can happen to you, what can you do? First, don’t just plead responsible to your first Miami violation without an attorney’s review-you may have a defense-particularly in cases that are close calls between consumption and intoxication. Reducing that first case from a 105(a) to a 105(b) can be the difference between staying in school and not the second time around. By the time that you get your second offense it is usually too late. Second, time is of the essence: if you believe that you are in danger of a second Miami violation, contact an experienced attorney immediately; you may have at least one additional option for resolving your case if you act quickly.