Fredericksburg Underage DUI Lawyer

If you or your child has been charged with driving under the influence as a minor, you are likely to be overwhelmed. The ensuing legal process can be overwhelming, especially if you are underprepared.

However, A Fredericksburg underage DUI lawyer might be able to help. By enlisting a steadfast attorney, you could have assistance understanding your legal rights and possible defenses to protect your future.

Laws for Pulling Over Underage Drivers

Simply put, the laws regarding anyone under 21 being pulled over for drinking and driving are exactly the same as anybody pulled over for a regular DUI. As such, a skilled Fredericksburg attorney would likely approach an underage DUI case in the same way.

They would still look for information regarding the nature of the stop and the client’s interaction with police both before and after the arrest. The main difference between an underage charge for drunk driving and an adult DUI is the allowable BAC involved, as well as the potential sentences imposed—if the defendant is convicted. Essentially, this means that while the factors used to determine impairment for an underage driver are the same, but the standards by which those judgments are made are lower.

BAC Requirements for Minors

Underage DUIs can be found under Code of Virgnia 18.2-266.1. The statute states that it is unlawful for any person under the age of 21 to operate any motor vehicle after illegally consuming alcohol. With a normal DUI, on the other hand, it states that it is illegal for anybody to operate a motor vehicle while intoxicated.

This distinction is important, because it means that anyone under 21 can be charged with a DUI if they consume any alcohol at all and get behind the wheel. As far as BAC is concerned, the statute goes on to say any  person with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.02% or more by weight or volume—or 0.02 grams or more per 210 liters of breath—but less than 0.08 by weight or volume  as indicated by chemical tests will be a violation of this code section.

With a standard DUI, the presumption is that someone is intoxicated at 0.08 BAC. With a minor DUI, a person is not necessarily presumed to intoxicated. Instead, these charges are simply based on consumption.

What to Expect from the DUI Process

If someone is under the age of 21, they should expect to be put through a field sobriety test and expect to be questioned heavily. This is because the officers are going to have a different goal than with a standard DUI stop. In a minor DUI, the officer does not have to reach a level as to whether the person is actually drunk. The state has got to get the person either to admit that they were drinking or they need to develop probable cause that the person had something to drink.

An underage DUI case is going to be heard in one of two places in Colonial Heights. If the individual is under the age of 18, it will be heard in juvenile domestic relations court. If they are over the age of 18 but still under the age of 21, it will be heard in the general district court.

Generally, underage DUIs are still taken seriously, but there is a lot more leniency with the prosecution and the judging. Most judges understand that they are dealing with young people, and they are generally going to try to avoid putting somebody in jail on a minor DUI—if it can be avoided. A Fredericksburg lawyer who is familiar with underage DUI cases could help to guide a client through each step of this process.

Are Consequences Less Severe for Underage Drivers?

While DUIs involving minors are often easier to prove, the consequences are not as severe. Usually, DUIs involving minors are considered to be Class 1 misdemeanors, which can carry:

  • A maximum penalty of up to 12 months in jail;
  • A fine of $2,500;
  • Forfeiture of such person’s license to operate a motor vehicle for a period of one year from a date of conviction;
  • A mandatory minimum fine of $500; and/or
  • Performance of 50 hours of community service.

With a standard drunk driving charge, these penalties are set.

With a baby DUI, a person could either pay a fine or they can do community service. There is no mandatory jail time ever with a baby DUI, and there is no compounding the baby DUIs. However, if the underage person has multiple DUIs, the judge may not grant them a restricted license. Other than that, to the charge will remain a Class 1 misdemeanor and there is no mandatory time. They can also choose community service instead of paying the fine, which is not an option for a normal DUI.

One important distinction is that an underage DUI does not count towards the compounding of future drunk driving charges. This means that, if someone is convicted for intoxicated driving as a minor, if they received another drunk driving charge later in life, the prior charge would not be considered.

How a Fredericksburg Underage DUI Attorney Might Help

If you or your child has been charged with driving under the influence as a minor, it could be critical to contact a Fredericksburg underage DUI lawyer for assistance. Working with an attorney who has experience with the judges and the local courts.

A tenacious legal professional who knows how to negotiate with the prosecution might also be essential, as they could give the person advice regarding how to proceed. To learn more, call us today to schedule a consultation.

Fredericksburg DUI Lawyer