Family Law

DUI’s and Minors – Not a Great Mix

(U.S. Family Law) Many people have felt the repercussions of being arrested after drinking a little too much before driving somewhere. Driving under the influence (DUI) is a dangerous crime that puts people’s lives in danger, and most states treat it with a severity equal to the risk it presents. Anyone convicted of DUI faces harsh consequences, but when it is a minor that is pulled over after drinking, the penalties can be even more severe. A person under the age of twenty-one may face several more consequences than a person who is of age if pulled over for a DUI, and they do not even have to be considered legally drunk.

Lower Blood Alcohol Content

Several years ago the United States Government threatened to pull federal highway funding from states that did not pass laws making it illegal for a person with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 percent to drive a vehicle. This began a domino effect that eventually led to .08 being the legal BAC percentage in every state in America. This means that a person over the age of twenty-one is considered legally drunk and unable to safely operate a motor vehicle when they reach a BAC of .08. This rule, however, does not apply to minors.

According to our Merced dui attorney, due to the fact that underage drinking is illegal in all states, the legal alcohol limit for minors who are driving is much lower. Many states have set a legal BAC limit of .02 percent for a minor to be considered driving under the influence. Some states have even passed laws making any detectable amount of alcohol in a minor’s system enough to arrest them for DUI. Considering the fact that a two hundred pound male will blow about a .09 after drinking five beers in an hour, this makes a minor’s chance of receiving a DUI charge exceptionally higher.

Underage DUI Criminal Penalties

There are several criminal penalties related to receiving a DUI charge as a minor. These penalties vary greatly state to state, but they are all severe. The fine a minor can get for their behavior can range anywhere from one hundred to nearly three thousand dollars. The courts usually also require at least a month of community service and participation in an alcohol awareness class.

Fines and community service, however, are not what an underage drinker should be most worried about. They can actually face up to a year in jail, even if there were no injuries or accidents related to the crime. If someone was harmed or killed because of the drinking and driving, the penalties will be far more severe. Most minors also face a few years of probation after a conviction.

Other Repercussions

Fines, community service and possible jail time are not where an underage drinker’s problems end. The car involved will also likely be impounded, which will end up costing at least another few hundred dollars to get back. The minor will also likely lose their license anywhere from three months to three years.

The big issue with underage drinking and driving is the possibility of further charges. An underage person who drinks is breaking the law even if they’re not driving. This can lead to further charges such as alcohol possession by a minor and even child endangerment. These additional charges can significantly increase the minor’s penalties.

Drinking and driving is a bad idea at any age, but doing so as a minor is flat out reckless. A DUI charge can give an underage person several charges related to the one instance. These charges will follow them for the rest of their lives if convicted. The loss of their license will obviously affect their social and employment life as well. There is absolutely no good reason for anyone, especially a minor, to drink and drive.

Anthony Joseph is a freelance writer, and also a contributing author for Terry A. Wapner, Esquire. A well known Merced DUI attorney, Mr. Wapner’s techniques for creating defense theories, and also his cross-examination of police officers and prosecution witnesses, have proven to be incredibly effective for his clients.