The True Effects of an Underage DUI Charge
Driving under the influence, or DUI, is a charge given to someone who a police officer believes is driving while impaired due to some intoxicating substance, especially alcohol. When a person is convicted of driving under the influence, the consequences can be severe and long lasting. This is true for adults, but can be even more accurate for those who are caught drinking and driving underage.
Every day in the United States, 27 people are killed because someone made the choice to get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly 20 percent of teen drivers involved in fatal vehicle accidents ultimately test positive for alcohol. Because this is such a dangerous act, the law treats underage drunk drivers more harshly than it does adults.
If a teenage driver is pulled over and a police officer suspects that they are under the influence of alcohol, the officer will ask the teen to submit to a blood alcohol content test via a breathalyzer. If alcohol is detected on the teen’s breath, they will be arrested and the car will likely be impounded.
When a teen who has been drinking is involved in an accident, their medical needs come first. They will be given medical attention either on scene or at a hospital. A blood draw may occur, and a blood alcohol content test will be taken from that draw. The results will be given to the police officer and submitted into evidence.
In most states, there is a zero tolerance stance against anyone under the age of 21 who has been caught drinking and driving. This means that any amount of alcohol in the system can result in a DUI charge and arrest. In Georgia, the underage limit is 0.02 percent, to give a little leeway for things like mouthwash, cough syrup and/or sacramental wine.
Legal Penalties for Underage Drivers
When a person is convicted of underage DUI, they face stiff penalties. These include, but are not limited to:
- Community Service
- Suspension or revocation of the driver’s license
- Alcohol education programs
- Jail time
Any time a person is convicted of DUI, but especially a teenager, fines should be expected. Probation, a license suspension and alcohol education are also typical. It is rare, but some teens have been sentenced to jail for DUI. This penalty is typically handed down when a teen’s actions have resulted in someone’s serious injury or death. However, most penalties are to get the driver off the road and educated about the dangers of drunk driving before they cause more damage.
Impact of a DUI Conviction
The impact of a DUI conviction for a teenager can be long lasting. Some schools will expel a student who has been convicted of DUI and, if the teen is not yet enrolled in a school, deny admission. The conviction could show up on a criminal background check for an employer, and the loss of a license could impact a teen’s ability to go to school or work.
If your teenager has been charged with a DUI in Atlanta, you need the experienced team of Hawkins Spizman Fortas on your side. A conviction can be extremely damaging to your child’s future. Call today for a free consultation.