Like many states, Florida takes a “zero-tolerance” approach to underage drinking and driving. The blood alcohol content necessary for adult DUI arrests is much lower than for underage individuals. As a result, if you are under the age of 21 and facing DUI charges, you may be wise to consult a Boca Raton underage DUI Lawyer.
One of our dedicated Attorneys at Leifert & Leifert can examine the circumstances that led to your arrest for any illegalities, such as whether the police had adequate probable cause to stop your vehicle. Based on a comprehensive investigation into your case, legal counsel can formulate the defense strategy that is most likely to be successful in your case. Together, you can work to minimize the impact of an underage DUI charge on your life.
The Basics of Underage DUI
Under Florida Statutes § 322.2616, individuals who are under the age of 21 commit DUI whenever they drive with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .02 percent or higher. This BAC level is in sharp contrast to the BAC level for adult DUI charges; for adults over age 21, the maximum legal limit is a BAC of .08 percent.
Law Enforcement officers who have probable cause to believe that persons under the age of 21 have committed DUI can detain them and require them to undergo BAC testing. If their BAC measures .02 percent or higher, or if they refuse to take a BAC test, the officers automatically will suspend their licenses.
Underage drivers cannot serve jail time for an underage DUI. However, they can serve jail time if the state chooses to prosecute them under the adult DUI statute, which is possible, especially in cases where their BAC levels measured .08 percent or more. As a practical matter, in most cases, underage drivers who violate this statute undergo administrative proceedings regarding their driving privileges, rather than criminal Prosecution.
Penalties for Underage DUI
Refusing to take a BAC test at the request of Law Enforcement will result in a one-year license suspension. If the individuals have a previous license suspension from refusing to take a BAC test, they will be subject to an 18-month license suspension. Due to the potential severity of the license suspension in this situation, individuals in the local area may benefit from contacting an underage DUI Attorney.
If the test shows a BAC of .02 percent or higher, underage individuals will face a license suspension of six months for a first offense. For a second or subsequent offense, the individuals will have their license suspended for one year. Furthermore, suppose their BAC measures .05 percent or more. Underage drivers will be unable to reinstate their driving privileges until they have paid for and completed a substance abuse program approved by Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FHSMV).
License Suspension Hearings Under State Law
Underage drivers who are facing license suspension due to minor DUI charges or a refusal to take a BAC test as requested by Law Enforcement officials have ten days from the date of the notice of suspension in which to request either an informal or formal review by state department officials.
If underage individuals request an informal review of their license suspensions, FHSMV officials will issue eligible persons a temporary driving permit that only allows them to drive for business purposes. This permit will expire at the informal review hearing before a hearing officer, which must occur within 30 days.
A request for a formal review proceeds in much the same manner as an informal review. However, a formal review in front of a hearing officer can involve sworn testimony, subpoenas, the examination of witnesses, and other relevant evidence. Due to the potential complexity of these procedures, enlisting the help of an underage DUI Attorney in Boca Raton may be useful.
Following either an informal or formal review, the hearing officer will issue a decision, either upholding, modifying, or invalidating the suspension within seven days. If otherwise eligible, underage drivers with a license suspension for DUI or refusing to submit to a BAC test can apply for a driving permit for business or employment purposes. However, they are ineligible for this permit until at least 30 days after their temporary permit expires.
Contact a Boca Raton Underage DUI Attorney
When Law Enforcement officials pull you over for DUI, you are likely to need a Boca Raton underage DUI Lawyer at Leifert & Leifert to assess your situation and ensure that officials followed proper procedures. Failing to adhere to these procedures can result in the dismissal of the case against you.
No matter how dismal your situation may appear, defenses often will apply in your case. With legal assistance, you can work to resolve your case more favorably.