An under 18 DUI charge is a very serious offense in Alexandria, Virginia. It can result in loss of license, fines, and even jail time. However, an experienced Alexandria underage DUI lawyer can help you navigate the process of the charge and understand your rights.
An underage DUI case is handled very similarly to a regular DUI case: you are charged with a criminal offense, the Commonwealth has the burden to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt, and you are subject to the same kinds of penalties found in a regular DUI case. Those penalties might include losing your license, being sent to a detention center, and being required to attend an alcohol class. It is treated like a criminal case in that evidence has to be brought forth to prove your guilt, you have a right to defend yourself, you can plead not guilty, you can make the Commonwealth prove their case, and ultimately, if you are convicted, there is a wide range of punishments that the judge can impose.
If you are under 18, your DUI case is heard in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, which is a subsection of the General District Court that handles all juvenile cases. It is in a different location and has different judges than a typical DUI case.
Prosecutors and judges take underage DUI charges very seriously. They do not like people driving under the influence of alcohol, and they are particularly concerned when the person is under 21, because drinking alcohol at all at that age is an offense by itself. The fact that the person made the decision to drink and then made the further decision to get behind a wheel only intensifies the judges’ and the prosecutors’ interests. Courts treat these offenses seriously and punish them harshly because they are trying to correct the behavior early on. You should not expect much leniency from the judge just because you are young or underage.
In the case of a student who is charged with DUI, it is imperative to thoroughly understand both the circumstances and facts of the case immediately. This way, the attorney has a good understanding of what the allegations are going to be, and how to navigate the prosecution. The student must therefore try to recollect everything and write down a narrative of what happened so that all of the information is present. Then, the lawyer will ask the student if they have ever been convicted of any offenses before, what their goals are, and how they would like to be employed in the future. An Alexandria underage DUI attorney might then give them a realistic assessment of what effect this type of case will have on their life.
Based on that conversation, the lawyer will put together a defense strategy and a mitigation package that puts the client in the best possible position in court, whether they ultimately go to trial or work out some type of agreement with the prosecution.
If you are a parent of a child charged with DUI, you should be aware that this is a very serious charge that can affect your child’s future for years to come if he or she is convicted of the criminal offense. Your child may lose their license, have to do community service, and be required to complete an alcohol program. Ultimately, you should be aware that the courts will take it very seriously, and will not show leniency to your son or daughter simply because they are young or because they “made a mistake.”
No matter how old a client is, the attorney always tries to work towards reaching his or her goals. With a younger person in particular, however, they are concerned with protecting the client’s future the best way possible.
Hiring an attorney is extremely important in every DUI case. DUI law is very nuanced and there is a lot of constantly-shifting case law on the subject that only DUI attorneys know. Criminal defense attorneys know the system and the possible punishments. They will be able to analyze how strong or weak the commonwealth’s case is much better than the average person. They will also be able to cross-examine witnesses and know what legal arguments are likely to work. Having an Alexandria lawyer experienced with underage DUI can increase the client’s chances of achieving the best possible outcome when they get to court. He or she can help walk the student through the process and make informed decisions based on the likely outcomes in court.