Although people under the age 21 are not permitted to drink, these individuals can still receive a DUI charge if they get behind the wheel drunk. Those caught drinking while underage are subject to the state’s zero tolerance policy. Under this law underage individuals are subject to a lower BAC requirement, so even one drink could potentially spell disaster for a young driver.
If you are under 21 and were arrested or charged with drunk driving, you need the protections of a skilled driving under the influence attorney. Our dedicated Ft. Lauderdale underage DUI lawyer could build your defense and work to mitigate any penalties.
What is the Zero Tolerance Law?
Florida Statute §322.2616 describes the state’s zero tolerance policy when it comes to drinking and driving while underage. Unlike other drivers, who are assumed to be intoxicated when they reach 0.08% blood alcohol concentration (BAC), an underage driver is deemed intoxicated when they reach a BAC of just 0.02%. This low threshold could be reached after a single drink and well before most people ever feel intoxicated in the slightest.
This seemingly harsh result may be avoided with a proper defense. Underage drivers may be able to protect their rights and avoid criminal DUI penalties with a properly formed and applied legal defense developed by a Ft. Lauderdale attorney.
Penalties for Underage DUI in Ft. Lauderdale
Underage drivers do not receive jail time for a DUI conviction in the same way that other drivers may, but the penalties they face can still be severe. For instance, jail time may be permitted for underage drivers who meet the intoxication requirements of the typical DUI statute. Other underage DUI penalties may include:
- Up to six months with a suspended driver’s license for a first offense
- Up to one year of a driver’s license suspension for a second or any subsequent offenses
- Mandatory DUI evaluation and education course if the accused’s BAC was 0.05% or higher
- Potentially thousands of dollars in fines
- Community service requirements
These potential penalties can seriously impede a defendant’s normal life. The inability to drive may mean the inability to get to work, socialize, and do other important aspects of their life. A lawyer in Ft. Lauderdale could help someone who is underage mitigate the potential DUI penalties.
Collateral Consequences of an Underage Drinking and Driving
If convicted, not only will a defendant face the criminal penalties, but other consequences as well. If the defendant is in school, they could face ramifications with their enrollment and even face disciplinary action through their school. Additionally, certain jobs may not permit continued employment with a criminal record. DUI convictions may also have a significant impact on the cost of insurance. Many individuals are required to get high-risk insurance which can be incredibly expensive.
DUI Defense Strategies for Defendants Under 21
Certain defenses may help prevent or reduce the severity of an underage DUI conviction. Some of these may include:
- Challenging probable cause for the initial stop or arrest
- Challenging field sobriety or breath test results
- Filing a suppression motion
- Negotiating a plea or diversion program if available
- Apply for DUI hardship license
A Ft. Lauderdale attorney could use any of these strategies to prevent a conviction or reduce the potential impact of the penalties associated with an underage DUI charge.
Consult a Ft. Lauderdale Underage DUI Attorney
After an arrest for an underage drinking and driving, it is essential that you contact a skilled defense attorney who can help with your case. The potential penalties you face can have a drastic and negative impact on your life if left undefended. No matter how serious your situation may be, a dedicated Ft. Lauderdale underage DUI lawyer is prepared to advocate for you. Contact us today.