Underage and Drunk Driving- The Legal Gavel Falls
Driving under the influence of alcohol is dangerous no matter who is involved, but the consequences of drunk driving can be especially traumatic for teenagers. Since drunk driving tends to be taken very seriously by judges around the country, a drunk driver under the age of 21 will likely face serious legal ramifications in addition to the psychological ordeal of a major accident.
What Counts As Drunk Driving
In many states around the nation, anyone with a BAC level of .02% and higher can face the legal consequences of an underage DUI. The punishments can vary widely, but the guilt of causing a serious accident and injuries or fatalities to others can last for a lifetime.
Add-On Charges to An Underage DUI Arrest
In addition to being charged with underage drinking and drunk driving, frequently law enforcement will add additional charges to the case where applicable. These include minor in possession of alcohol, Child Endangerment Law violations, distribution of alcohol to other minors (when other passengers are in the vehicle), soliciting alcohol from an adult, vehicle violations, and possession of false identification. When added together, the consequences are compounded and will impact the teen’s life for years to come.
Sentencing For Underage DUI
Sentencing guidelines vary by state and by judge, but underage drinking and driving accidents are taken very seriously by the majority of judges around the country. Fines associated with a drunk driving accident may range from $100 to $2500. In addition, the car associated with the accident can be impounded and driving privileges are likely to be revoked for anywhere from 3 months to 3 years. The driver may also be sentenced up to 2 months of community service, mandatory alcohol education classes, or be put into jail for as little as 2 days or as long as 1 year. Judges are given fairly wide latitude in sentencing these cases, but typically dole out harsh punishments especially when multiple charges are at play or where the driver has had an accident or moving violation of some other type before.
Even after the initial punishment has been completed, it’s highly likely that a judge will institute some form of probation or follow-up service. Needless to say, a teen’s life can be changed forever in a matter of moments after one poor decision.
Avoiding Underage Drinking Accidents
The first step to completely avoiding an underage drinking accident is never to engage in the activity of drinking under the age of 21. This alone carries serious consequences and legal ramifications. Additionally, no person should ever be behind the wheel of a vehicle when they have consumed too much alcohol. If you feel like you have consumed too much alcohol, stay with a friend, get a ride with someone else, or use public transportation to get home. It is never worth risking getting behind the wheel of the car when alcohol has impaired your judgment. In addition to hurting other people, there are serious punishments associated with being convicted of an underage drinking and driving charge. Avoid being a victim of a DUI and instead practice safe driving behavior on a regular basis.