In Virginia and in other states across the country, high school and college students often attend parties or other social gatherings where there is drinking or drug use. However, since the legal drinking age is 21 years old, an underage driver may still face serious criminal penalties if their blood alcohol content (BAC) level is below the legal limit, which is .08 percent. Also, a juvenile can be charged with driving under the impairment of drugs, even prescribed medications.
According to Virginia’s “zero-tolerance” policy regarding underage drunk drivers, any driver who is under 21 years of age and caught operating a vehicle with a BAC level of at least .02 percent, he/she can be convicted of an underage DUI. Since an underage DUI is a misdemeanor, a conviction can result in a fine of up to $2,500 (mandatory minimum of $500), driver’s license suspension for up to one year, 50 hours of community service, and court-ordered substance abuse counseling. If you are under the age of 18, the juvenile court has more options for how your case could be resolved.
Following an arrest, the police will confiscate an underage driver’s license and the court will keep it for up to seven days. A second offense will result in a 60-day hold, while a third offense will lead to the license being held until trial.
Keep in mind, if an underage driver’s BAC level is at least .08 percent, then he or she will face a standard DUI charge, which includes a maximum jail term of one year. But no matter what type of DUI charge an underage driver faces, a conviction will remain on their criminal record for the rest of their lives, which can make it difficult to apply to college, find a job, and live a normal life.
If you or your child has recently been arrested for a DUI, The Law Office of Ann Thayer, PLLC can protect your rights, freedom, and future. Our Fairfax DUI defense attorney can guide you through the complexities of your case and help you obtain the most favorable outcome in court.
For more information about our firm, contact us today at (703) 940-0001. Available 24/7.