Getting caught driving under the influence as an underage driver can have a huge impact on your life, with very serious consequences. In Florida, there are several laws in place that protect the community from the potential harms of drunk drivers, and if you are underage there is no exception. Drive under the influence? You may face significant penalties.
Underage Alcohol Consumption
In Florida, consuming alcohol under the age of 21 is unlawful. This means that if you are caught drinking (even without driving) you can be charged with an offense. If you are caught under the influence while driving, the blood alcohol level (BAC) is lower than if you were an adult of legal age.
In Florida, the limit for adults is a BAC of 0.08 – if you are caught driving with a BAC above this, you can be charged with a DUI. For people under 21, the limit is only 0.02. Effectively, this means you can be charged with a DUI even if you have only had one drink.
With the help of an expert DUI lawyer, you can mitigate the possible impacts of this charge as an underage person.
Penalties and Possible Impacts
There are a number of possible penalties you could face if you are charged with a DUI while underage; some of which will have immediate impacts on your life, and others of which can be more long term. This is why it is so critically important that you hire a lawyer to represent you as quickly as possible.
Some of the impacts you might face immediately after you have been convicted include:
- Suspension of your driver’s license for 6 months if this is your first offense
- Suspension of your driver’s license for 6 months if this is your second or subsequent offense
- Fines between $500-$1000
- Community service
- Vehicle impoundment
- Drivers license revocation
- If you refuse a breath test, your driver’s license may be suspended for 1 year-18 months
If you are between 18 and 21 years old, you may also face harsher penalties and could be tried as an adult. This could include larger fines or jail time. In addition, if you are caught driving with a suspended license or this is not your first offense, you could be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, which carry much higher penalties.
For those under 18, you will be charged as a juvenile, and you could also serve time in a juvenile facility. In addition, you might be required to undertake addiction courses, driving training, and other rehabilitation programs to help you to build your skills and avoid a repeat of the same incident.
There are several potential long-term consequences that could affect you even after you have paid any fines or your driver’s license has been reinstated. If you have a criminal record, you could risk being refused admission to colleges and schools of your choice, and you could miss out on being eligible for scholarships. You might also be refused entry to college sports teams, special programs, or other privileges and opportunities.
If you have hopes one day of undertaking a career such as teaching, nursing, joining the armed forces, or being a lawyer, you may also face issues with being certified or being hired, as many professions and jobs do not allow members with criminal records.
The best way to prevent these issues is to seek legal help as soon as you have been arrested or charged, to ensure that you have representation to help mitigate these penalties and impacts.
Get Help from a Board-Certified Attorney
If you are underage and have been charged with a DUI, or your child is in this position, Stechschulte Nell can help. Attorney Ben Stechschulte is a Florida board-certified trial lawyer. We are available 24/7 to take your call and discuss the specifics of your case.