Return To Blog

Underage DUIs Explained by a Denver Criminal Lawyer

September 12, 2018

When we think about drunk driving and DUI charges, it’s far easier to imagine an adult behind the wheel. It’s far easier to make the mistake of getting behind the wheel impaired when it’s legal for you to purchase alcohol. Unfortunately, it’s not just adults that find themselves in need of an experienced Denver criminal defense attorney. In fact, many younger drivers get charged with an underage DUI each year. As a parent, you’ll do anything to protect your child, even from the legal system, but if you’re not sure what to expect, helping your child can be a real challenge. Here’s what you need to know about underage DUI convictions.

Alcohol Levels are Different For Teens

As an adult, you can legally be charged with a DUI if your blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 percent. Since it’s legal for you to drink alcohol, the law does not penalize you for getting behind the wheel if you’ve had a beer or two at the bar after work. However, for teens, the limit is significantly lower. For all individuals under age 21, the limit is .02 percent. If an officer smells alcohol on their breath, it may be enough take them into custody even if they were not driving erratically. Remember, it’s illegal for individuals under age 21 to consume alcohol in any amount.

Penalties and Punishments

Teens make mistakes and though law enforcement is strict about preventing underage drinking, they understand that your teen needs to learn from the experience. For most first-time offenses, teen drivers can expect a fine, suspension of their license for at least three months, and mandatory community service. For additional charges, teens might be expected to lose their license for a full calendar year, additional community service hours, and possibly even a jail sentence or probation. Ultimately, the sentence your teen is given will vary based on the circumstances surrounding the arrest. If they were caught driving and no one was injured, the sentence will be lighter than if they were responsible for property damage or injuries.

What a DUI Means for Their Future

DUI charges can have far-reaching effects on more than just a teen’s driving record. It can influence college scholarship awards, admission, and even impact their ability to get a job, just as it would if they were an adult. There can be social stigma attached to the experience as well, making it more difficult for them to integrate into their existing social scene at school. Even underage DUI charges are a serious matter and it’s important to explain what could happen to your teen if they’re found driving under the influence.

If your teen has been charged with an underage DUI, it’s important to get help from an experienced attorney immediately. The legal system can be difficult to navigate on your own and a dedicated lawyer will be able to ensure that your teen’s case is represented fairly throughout the entire process. Contact the Law Office of John L. Buckley, P.C. today and schedule a free consultation.