Being charged with driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious situation, but never more so than when the accused is under the legal age for drinking alcohol. For the parent, it is often a time of shock and disbelief, as well as anger and disappointment. But once these feelings lessen, it becomes the time to face the charges head on and help your child minimize the long-term consequences from his or her error in judgment.
For some parents, there may be an initial temptation to allow the child to face the legal consequences without intervention, and that would be a serious mistake. A conviction and the penalties for underage drinking are severe and stay with the person charged for a long time - permanently on his or her criminal record if found guilty and at least 10 years on his or her driving record. This is not the time for a child to learn from the school of hard knocks. Instead, teens charged with DUI need to help deal with the charges and hopefully have those charges reduced.
An underage DUI can be far more challenging than a DUI for an adult. California has a no-tolerance policy for underage drinking which means that any measurable amount of alcohol in your system is chargeable.
California Underage DUI
Underage drivers can be charged with up to four crimes for the same behaviors. First, an underage driver can be charged with the adult standard DUI for allegedly having a BAC of over 0.08%. Second, he or she may be charged with an underage DUI for allegedly having a BAC over 0.05%. Third, the child may be charged under the zero tolerance policy for allegedly having a BAC over 0.01%. Finally, impaired driving may also be charged.
These four charges on an underage driver's record can have long-term implications for the future. Although some might think that the courts would look at an underage driver with sympathy for the future and be lenient in their sentencing, this is not often the case. As a result, these charges may end up turning into convictions, and the underage driver serves real time for what was likely a one-time error in judgment. If convicted, an underage driver carries a record into the future that must be disclosed to colleges if applying for financial aid and potential employers, affecting the child's future every step of the way.
If you are a parent of an underage driver who has been charged with driving under the influence, the most important decision you can make is to obtain an experienced DUI attorney. At the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, our Orange County DUI attorneys work every day to defend those charged with DUI, and they will protect your rights. To set up a free initial consultation with one of our attorneys, call us today at