If you are under 21, you can be charged with a regular DUI if you blow above a .08 on a blood alcohol test or if you’re impaired to the extent that it affects your ability to drive. However, if you are charged with underage DUI—meaning that you’re allegedly drunk, under 21 and pulled over for DUI—certain laws do apply to you that don’t apply to other people of legal drinking age. In particular, if you are under 18 and charged with a DUI, you will want an experienced attorney to help you navigate the charges you are facing.
There’s a severe zero-tolerance policy in place in Virginia which makes blowing a .02 or above, which is a very low standard, subject to underage DUI penalties. When this happens, it is imperative you consult with an Alexandria underage DUI lawyer, as your BAC could lead to a conviction for an underage DUI and all the penalties that come with it, which in Virginia for a first offense means up to ten days in jail, at least a $500 fine and a one-year loss of license. Fortunately, a DUI lawyer in Alexandria may be able to help.
If you blow above a .08 or if you’re under the influence of alcohol to the extent that it impairs your ability to drive, then you can be convicted of DUI whether you’re over 21 or not. In particular, if you are under 18
However, if you’re under 21, the BAC level drops down to .02 to qualify for underage DUI, which is a separate, unique charge. If you blow a .02 and you’re under 21, you can be convicted of underage DUI, which is a misdemeanor. If you blow above a .08 and you’re under 21, it is imperative an Alexandria underage DUI attorney is contacted as you can be convicted of two offenses: regular DUI and underage DUI.
DUIs are prosecuted very severely by prosecutors no matter how old you are. Judges are not likely to give someone a break because he or she is under 21, and in fact a judge is more likely to treat someone who is under 21 the same as somebody who’s over 21, and the penalties can be much the same. After all, both regular DUI and underage DUI are Class 1 misdemeanors. However, the penalties for underage DUI alone—meaning that the individual blew above a .02 but not above a .08—are generally less severe than if someone is an adult and blows above a .08.
For students, they could face serious repercussions and penalties from their schools. Universities vary in how they treat students’ DUI convictions and some may dole out suspensions and expulsions.
For adults, regular DUI and underage DUI cases are heard in the same court. If you’re 18 or older but not older than 21, your underage DUI case will be heard in the general district court, which is the same court that handles all adult DUIs. The only difference is you’re dealing with a different charge than someone who’s over 21.
If you’re under 18, your case will be heard in the juvenile and domestic relations court instead. That court handles all cases involving juveniles and, due to the serious penalties associate, still warrants contact with an Alexandria underage DUI lawyer.