The Consequences of Underage DUI Convictions. Many states have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to drivers under the age of 21.
This means that if you are caught driving while under the influence of any amount of alcohol you will be convicted of a DUI.
This article will examine the laws regarding underage DUIs, how they differ from standard DUIs.
What Constitutes Driving Under the Influence?
The consumption of alcohol by anyone under 21 is illegal in the United States with the exception of specific religious ceremonies or medical treatment.
In zero-tolerance states, any driver under 21 that has a blood alcohol content (BAC) above 00.00% can be issued a citation for driving under the influence.
Some states have an “implied consent” law, which requires you to take a chemical test to detect the level of alcohol or drugs in your system if an officer has probable cause to believe that you are driving under the influence. This can involve a test of your blood, breath, urine or saliva and you may be asked to take more than one test.
If you refuse to comply with the testing requirements, then you can face penalties for refusal, which can include:
- Having your license revoked
- Having an ignition interlock device on your car for three years
- Being prohibited from driving with any measurable amount of alcohol in your system for five or more years
It should also be noted that refusing to take these tests does not guarantee that you won’t be convicted of a DUI. The state can still choose to convict you and the prosecution may use your refusal as “proof of guilt.”
What Is the Penalty for a DUI Conviction?
The penalty for a DUI depends on whether you refused to take the tests and whether you are a first or second-time offender. This will also vary for drivers over and under the age of 21.
Individuals that refused to take the sobriety tests can have their license suspended for 18 months or until they turn 21. This applies even if they are not convicted of a DUI by the state.
For a first offense, the driver may:
- Get their license suspended for 90 days.
- Be incarcerated for a minimum of two days.
- Owe a payment of $700 or more in fines and does not include the cost of programs involved in license reinstatement.
- Have the conviction remain on their record indefinitely and influence future DUI convictions for up to 10 years.
For a second-time offender, the following may apply:
- License suspension for up to two years with a $200 fee for reinstatement after the two-year period.
- Your car could be impounded and you will be required to serve 240 hours of community service.
- Serving 10 days in jail and paying a $800 fine in addition to the cost of alcohol treatment programs, an ignition interlock device, etc.
For drivers that are under the age of 21, a first offense can result in:
- Sentenced to 120 days of suspension or have driving suspended until the age of 21 (whichever period is longer).
- Being required to mount an ignition interlock device in your car.
- Restricted from consuming alcohol for two years.
In the case of a second conviction for drivers under the age of 21:
- Suspension of license for two years or until their 21st birthday (whichever period is longer).
- An ignition interlock device must be installed in vehicle for a period of three years after license reinstatement.
- An alcohol restriction period of 10 years.
There may also be other charges for underage drinkers such as soliciting alcohol, possession of false identification, minor in possession and distribution of alcohol to other minors.
Whether you are over or under the age of 21, if you are convicted of driving while intoxicated there will a wide range of consequences that you will face. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a serious crime that can result in serious injury or death.
Check your local laws to determine specific consequences of a DUI conviction. You may also want to consider utilizing legal support to get your charges reduced or dismissed.