It’s no surprise that when a driver under the age of 21 is charged with a DUI. The sentencing process and penalties differ from an older driver. To protect your rights or the rights of your child after an arrest, a Miami juvenile defense attorney can help.
Initial Stop for a Minor Charged with DUI
Drivers under the age of 21 who exhibit behavior causing the police to believe they’re under the influence of alcohol will be subjected to the same sobriety analysis as an adult. They may be asked to perform field sobriety tests or take a breathalyzer.
If chemical testing shows that a driver under the age of 21 has any measurable amount of alcohol in his or her body, he or she may be detained under charges of DUI. This means that a blood alcohol level (BAL) of .02 is enough to allow police to take the minor into custody until they’re released to a parent or guardian.
Penalties for a Minor Charged with DUI
The basic minimum penalty drivers under the age of 21 caught with a .02 BAL is a 6-month suspension of their driver’s license or permit. If a chemical test is refused, the suspension increases to a year. For a second or subsequent offense, minors face the 1-year suspension, and a second refusal of a chemical test will increase the suspension period to 18 months.
Additional penalties along with the mandatory suspension can be incurred depending on the minor’s BAL. If a minor driver’s BAL is .05 or above, he or she may be subjected to license suspension until a substance abuse evaluation and education course is completed. A temporary permit may be given by the arresting officer, which allows the minor to drive for 10 days pending program eligibility.
Nuances to DUI Charges for Drivers under 21
There’s a very important potential situation that a minor may face when going before a jury on DUI charges. Because most state’s definition of DUI is driving with a BAL of .08 or higher, a minor driver with a BAL over .02 but less than .08 may not face DUI charges.
This is where having the help of juvenile defense attorneys is critical to a minor’s case. An arrest for DUI for a minor will be taken before a judge and jury just as an adult would. They’ll determine if the situation warrants a full DUI charge or not. Your attorney can work with you to develop a defense strategy to make sure you’re being treated fairly and assessed a sentence in accordance with your legal rights.