Underage DUI laws may be intended for minors, but the penalties can be just as harsh as regular DUI.
Most parents will be thrilled—even proud—when their teenager aces the DMV driving test. Finally, their child will have the license to drive.
However, apprehension often follows that joy, especially if you think about the issue of teen drinking and driving. The legal drinking age in the United States may be 21, but it’s not uncommon for teenagers to find ways to get access to alcohol. Your teen could be drinking and driving and end up needing a DUI defense attorney later.
No parent would ever want their child facing an underage DUI charge, but it would help to know more about it in case your teenager gets involved in such a situation. Here are some things parents should know about underage DUI.
All States Have Underage DUI Laws, and They’re Stricter
Every state has underage DUI laws that apply only to drivers under the age of 21. Often referred to as a zero tolerance law, underage DUI tends to be more stringent than regular DUI, which applies to all adults 21 years old and older.
Under zero tolerance laws, the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit is so much lower than the one set by regular DUI laws. If an adult driver has a BAC of 0.08% or higher, he or she will be arrested for DUI. For teenagers, it’s 0.02, 0.01, or even 0.00 percent for minors, depending on the state. That means even the slightest hint of alcohol in their system would be enough to charge them with underage DUI.
The Penalties are Just as Tough
Underage DUI laws may be intended for minors, but the penalties can be just as harsh as regular DUI. An underage DUI conviction could mean fines, suspension of driver’s license of up to two years, community service, alcohol education programs, and time in jail or a juvenile facility. If the DUI caused injury or death, these penalties are bound to be more severe.
Conviction for Underage DUI Has Long-Term Consequences
The consequences of underage DUI are not limited to what happens immediately after conviction. An underage DUI conviction will also be on your teen’s record, which could haunt him or her later in life.
Having such a record could make it hard for your child to enter a university or qualify for a scholarship. Jobs could also be hard to come by for a person with a DUI in his or her record. A DUI could also mean higher car insurance premiums.
Thankfully, you can still do something to spare your teen this problem. The fact that your child is a minor means you can have his or her record sealed. Consult your lawyer to see what you need to do in this regard.
These are just some of the things you need to know about underage DUI. Dealing with it, if it happens, is not going to be easy. However, as long as you get the services of an experienced DUI attorney, your teen’s chances of getting the best possible results are better.