Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious offense regardless of the age of the perpetrator. If the offender is underage, however, both the standards and the punishments are different than for those age 21 and up. Read on to learn more about underage drinking and driving offenses.
Blood Alcohol Concentrations
Those who get stopped and tested for the presence of alcohol in their system that are age 21 and over must not demonstrate a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over .08%. If you are under the age of 21, the laws are more stringent. States vary when it comes to their policies on underage drinking and driving. Some "zero tolerance" states charge those with any alcohol at all in their systems while operating a vehicle with a crime. Other states are less strict and may only impose penalties at levels certain levels. It should be noted that the BAC level allowed in underage drivers is always lower than that of those 21 and over.
Standard DUI Charges for Underage Drinkers
In some instances, underage drivers who test positive for alcohol can be charged with a standard DUI. A standard DUI charge carries serious ramifications and the way states address this issue varies. In most cases, underage drivers who have BAC levels at or above .08% stand a chance of being charged with a standard DUI instead of an underage DUI. In a few states, prosecutors have the option to charge underage drivers with a standard DUI based on not just a high BAC but using a combination of that and having the appearance of being seriously impaired.
Penalties for an Underage DUI
While the punishments do vary by state, most states address this issue by taking some standard measures. The amount of the fines, time of license suspensions, and more can vary widely. States view this offense as either a misdemeanor or a criminal offense. In the states that classify this offense as a crime and not a misdemeanor, offenders under the age of 18 are often prosecuted through the juvenile justice system.
There are a handful of states that do not prosecute an underage DUI offense as a crime but as a driving violation. That means that the offender won't face jail time but will face driver's license suspensions and fines. This is known as administrative prosecution and the punishments are meted out by the state's department of motor vehicles instead of the prosecutor's office.
If you or a loved one has been arrested for an underage DUI, speak to a criminal defense attorney at once.Share
14 December 2018
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