Virginia law differentiates between a normal DUI charge and DUI for a defendant who is a minor or is underage. If you or a family member are facing a DUI charge and are under the age of 21, consider reaching out to a Chantilly underage DUI lawyer for legal representation. An experienced attorney could navigate overlapping jurisdictions and work for a favorable outcome.
Virginia law carries specific statutes for minors who drive under the influence of alcohol. If an individual is charged for an under-21 offense through the “Baby DUI” statute—which simply requires the presence of alcohol in an individual’s bloodstream—a conviction will have different penalties than a regular DUI statute of 0.08 BAC or above.
If an underage driver is found to be between 0.02 and 0.08 BAC, then they fall under the Baby DUI statute. The Baby DUI charge does not require intoxication, merely the presence of 0.02 to 0.08 BAC. For that particular offense, the driver could still face up to a year in jail, license forfeiture for a year, between $500 and $2,500 in fines, or mandatory 50 hours of community service.
If the driver’s BAC is above 0.08, they may be treated the same as an of-age adult. Penalties for an adult DUI include up to 12 months in jail, up to a $2,500 fine, one-year license suspension, and alcohol prevention classes.
If a person under the age of 21 is convicted of a DUI, then they will also likely have a one-year license suspension.
In some cases, a defendant may petition to have their license restricted as opposed to fully suspended. The process for a restricted license in an underage DUI case differs depending on the jurisdiction.
If a person is under 18 and goes to Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, the court may grant them a restricted driver’s license or can make the punishment a full suspension for the entire period, at their discretion. If a person is over 18 and goes to the General District Court, they may petition for a restricted license in the same manner as anybody else who has a DUI as an adult.
A defendant petitions with the judge or General District Court or Circuit Court, depending on where the case is heard, and then the judge has the discretion to either allow or deny the request for a restricted license.
An underage DUI is still a DUI and is still a Class One misdemeanor offense. The convicted driver still has a criminal record, is still going to be impaired in their ability to drive, still has to pay a significant fine, and if they are over 18, they will have to report the conviction to any security clearance application or job application. There are potential immigration consequences as well.
An underage person can face up to a year in jail, but they may have some or all of that time suspended by the judge.
Sometimes, in Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, a judge might come up with an alternative sentencing team, under which the individual may end up without a conviction as a juvenile. Once the individual reaches the age of 18, however, there may not be opportunities for an alternative program.
If you were accused of driving under the influence, you need a strong defense. Contact a Chantilly underage DUI lawyer for help with your case. With an experienced attorney by your side, you could fight for a positive resolution of your charges.