Drunk driving is always a serious offense. But when minors are involved, these charges can be even more severe. Although licensed drivers under the age of 21 account for only 10% of all motorists, this group is actually responsible for 17% of all fatal crashes involving alcohol. If your child has been arrested on suspicion of a DUII, here’s what you need to know.
How Do Underage DUII Allegations Differ?
For drivers of legal age, having a Blood Alcohol Content of 0.08% or above will result in an arrest for a DUII. But drivers who are under the age of 21 are subject to even stricter laws. If their BAC level shows they have consumed any amount of alcohol whatsoever, they will fail the test and be arrested for on DUII charges. That’s because most states have what are known as zero tolerance laws. That means that if only a tiny amount of alcohol shows up on a test, they can be convicted for drunk driving. Unfortunately, because teen drivers have neither the judgment skills nor the experience (both with driving and drinking), they may be more prone to making an incredibly costly mistake like this.
What Are the Possible Consequences of Underage DUIIs?
Typically, an underage individual facing DUII charges may be subject to fines, community service, probation, alcohol treatment, mandatory license suspension, or even jail time, depending on the situation. Even a first DUII charge could come with very serious consequences, particularly if the incident in question resulted in major injuries or fatalities.
In Oregon, many underage drunk driving offenders may be eligible for a DUII diversion program. Those who participate in these programs will usually be required to receive treatment, pay dines, and install ignition interlock devices in vehicles (though their license will be suspended for at least one year automatically). If participants comply with all terms of the program, their DUII charges will usually be dismissed after the program and its terms have been completed.
Underage offenders who are not eligible for diversion programs or who do not complete these programs successfully are subject to essentially the same criminal consequences as adult DUII offenders are. These consequences include large fines, community service or jail time, and victim impact panel attendance, as well as some of the other ramifications already listed (such as IID installation, license suspension, alcohol treatment program participation, etc.).
Keep in mind that the consequences of DUII allegations extend beyond the short term. Although some individuals are able to have their DUII charges expunged or dismissed, this isn’t always the case. Some high schools will take disciplinary action against students who are charged with underage DUIIs, while many colleges will make it impossible to obtain scholarships or even acceptance with a DUII charge on one’s record. Potential employers will typically screen for criminal charges, which could make it more difficult for those with these charges on their record to secure employment. Plus, not having a valid driver’s license will make it more difficult to get a part-time job while your child is still in school. They could be ostracized from their friends or go down the wrong path if action is not taken.
How Can I Help My Child If They Are Arrested?
Despite our best efforts as parents to educate and warn our children about the dangers of drinking and driving, not all teenagers will take heed. If your child is facing a DUII allegation, the best thing you can do is to secure reputable legal representation for them. Even though they are not of legal age, these DUII allegations must be taken seriously. Contacting DUII attorneys in your area and hiring one who is highly qualified will provide your child with the best chance of avoiding jail time and learning from their mistakes. While the former might not be possible in every situation (particularly if their choices resulted in a serious accident), your lawyer can offer much-needed guidance throughout this process by crafting a DUII defense and fighting for your child’s rights in a court of law.
For more information on DUII allegations and how to help your loved one facing these charges, please contact our firm today.