Driving Under The Influence And Underage Drinking

While all driving under the influence (DUI) charges are serious, if the accused is not yet 21 years of age, the charges and the punishments are different. To find out what to expect if your loved one has been arrested and charged with underage drinking and driving, read on.

Stricter Standards

Anyone caught driving while intoxicated can be charged with a DUI. To be legally intoxicated, the standard in all states is a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of above .08%. For those who are not old enough to legally consume alcohol, the standards vary. In almost all states, the standard BAC measurement for underage drinkers is far lower than .08%.

DUI: Standard and Underage

With states having varying ways of viewing underage drinking and driving, it's best to view the above site to determine the exact guidelines in your state. You must realize, however, that in no case does the law indicate that the charges or the punishment for underage drinking and driving is less stringent than that of a standard DUI. All DUI cases, standard and underage, can result in extremely harsh and long-term punishments.

Underage Drinking in General

Regardless of where you live, the age for legally consuming alcohol is 21. That means you cannot purchase, give away, possess or consume alcoholic beverages until you reach the age of 21. These laws are so strictly enforced that you might have your driver's license revoked for such a conviction even if you were nowhere near a vehicle at the time of your arrest. The punishment varies depending on these factors:

  • Whether or not the offender was driving a vehicle at the time.
  • The BAC measurement and any field sobriety test results.
  • The age (the younger, the harsher the punishment might be).
  • Past offenses.

As an aside, it is also illegal to provide alcohol or to condone or promote the consumption of alcohol by a minor if you are an adult.

What Punishments to Expect for an Underage DUI

While it varies from state to state, you can generally expect the following:

  • Fines of anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars.
  • Probation that includes check-ins, attending alcohol education classes, and community service.
  • Jail time or juvenile detention.
  • Suspension of a driver's license.

Some underage drinking convictions can continue to haunt young people for far longer than they might imagine. If you or someone you care about has been charged with an underage drinking crime, consult with a criminal law attorney immediately. The consequences are too harsh to disregard.

Reach out to a company like Kalasnik Law Office to learn more.