Florida has a zero tolerance as it relates to alcohol for a person under the age of 21 while driving. If a person driving under the age of 21 has an alcohol level BAC of 0.02 or higher, the West Palm Beach underage DUI penalties that they are looking at include an automatic and immediate suspension of their driver’s license for at least six months and more. That is why it is important for you or your loved one to work with a qualified underage DUI lawyer that could attempt to mitigate the penalties that you or your loved one may face.

Factors Used to Determine Impairment

The factors used to determine impairment in an underage driver are the same factors that are used when determining impairment in an adult driver. Whether a person is 60 or 16, they are going to get the same factors, the same observations, and the same tests. The same laws apply. The factors used to determine impairment are the same factors in an underage driver as they would be for someone over 21, over 50, or over 80. If a person is impaired, they are impaired. It does not matter how old someone is. 

Prosecution’s Approach to Underage DUIs

Prosecutors handle underage DUI as they would an adult, but they are also aware that the person is underage. While the laws are the same, the same penalties apply to a person no matter what age they are if they are guilty of driving under the influence. More so than a prosecutor, the court might take note that the person in front of them for a trial or settling a case is underage and might take some steps more so than a prosecutor. 

The court might take some steps to make sure that the underage driver is properly educated in the law and the course of conduct that led to them being in court. It might also want a parent present to make sure that the parent is aware, involved, and taking some remedial measures to educate their child to make sure that this type of activity is going to stop, that the underage person accused of DUI understands the severity and consequences, that they are going to change their behavior to lessen the likelihood that it would re-occur, and that if there is a problem it would be addressed. Not only will the defendant face West Palm Beach underage DUI penalties, they will have to address whatever underlying issues that may have led to the offense.

How Judges Treat Cases of Underage DUIs

Prosecutors and judges treat underage DUIs a little bit differently but very rarely do they even notice the date of birth until they are in front of them. Then the judge might pick up on it at that point, question the age of the underage driver, what steps are being taken to rectify the situation, and whether the parents are aware of the offense or not. The defendant will usually respond that the parents are present, aware of the crime, and are taking steps to address the issue such as therapy, or counseling. The judge would want to make sure this was a juvenile with parental supervision and that certain remedial measures are in place to make sure it does not happen again. 

Severity of the Offenses Compared to Of-Age Sentencing

The law in Florida is the same and the sentences are the same regardless of age. There may be some additional West Palm Beach underage DUI penalties for a younger person if the judge or prosecutor catches it with the intention of educating the person to make sure that it does not happen again and not so much to punish the person. An 18-year-old who gets a DUI is going to have it on their record for the rest of their life. That is punishment enough. They are going to pay an increased insurance and they will have a criminal conviction on their record. 

Furthermore, the court would want to make sure that the person is treated appropriately and that the person gets help and treatment for potential substance abuse issues now, rather than when they are 28 after they get two more DUIs or get into an accident where they hurt or kill somebody. If an individual wishes to know more about West Palm Beach underage DUI penalties and the best way to mitigate those penalties, they should consult a skilled underage DUI lawyer today.

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