Memphis Underage DUI FAQ hamilton-law-firm-memphis-criminal-defense-underage-dui

Underage DUI is a youthful indiscretion that produces serious consequences. If you or your child face these charges, it is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible. There is a small window for discovering mitigating circumstances and challenging evidence. Below are common questions we receive from clients regarding underage DUI.

What makes underage DUI different?

A driving under the influence (DUI) charge results when an individual operates a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs, alcohol or a combination of both. It applies to prescription drugs as well as alcohol, marijuana, and other recreational substances.

Differences between underage DUI and adult charges include age and acceptable blood alcohol content (BAC). Underage DUI applies to drivers under the age of 21 who test positive for alcohol in their system. While a BAC of 0.08 percent is considered impaired for drivers over 21, for minors that decreases to the negligible amount of 0.02 percent or greater.

BAC is determined the same way as with adult drivers. Officers may use a breathalyzer, field sobriety tests, and even order blood tests. with the consent of a minor’s parents.

Underage DUI may produce additional charges that do not apply with adults. These can include minor in possession or use of false identification. If the minor was served in a public place, the establishment can also face penalties, especially if they never confirmed the age of their customer. This holds true even if a false I.D. was convincing. Adults who provided minors with alcohol can also face penalties.

What are the penalties?

Generally, underage DUI is a Class A Misdemeanor. Your sentence possibilities depend on your age.

Offenders who are 16 or 17 are guilty of a delinquent offense that is handled in the juvenile court system. DUI Penalties include license suspension for one year and a fine of $250. Judges may also include community service and alcohol education in some cases.

When a defendant is between the ages of 18 and 21, their first DUI is a Class A Misdemeanor and usually punishable by the same penalties as with minors. Circumstances may increase penalties on the first conviction and defendants in this age range can face up to 11 months and 29 days in prison and fines between $350 and $1,000. That is in addition to a one-year license suspension.

A second DUI within 10 years of the first results in harsher penalties and little sentencing leeway. Defendants face between 45 days and 11 months and 29 days in prison and fines of $600 and $3,500. License suspension can last up to two years.
Convictions between the ages of 18 and 21 result in a criminal record. That may make finding jobs, housing, and car insurance more difficult for you.

Can I be charged as an adult?

There are circumstances where a minor DUI upgrades to an adult one. If you are under 21 and present a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher, you will be subjected to adult penalties. The only difference is you will be held in jail for 24 hours instead of the standard 48.

Penalties for a first-time offense in these cases include up to one year in jail, license suspension for one year, fines, and likely participation in a drug or alcohol treatment program. A judge may require you to install an Ignition Interlock Device that will cost at least $1,000 in the first year.

What are the challenges with underage DUI?

DUI charges are serious but with underage DUI, there are specific challenges.

A BAC of 0.02 percent is usually not detected by a driver. However, you can still face conviction even if you never felt impaired. Unfortunately, blowing a 0.02 percent or above is all the evidence needed to file charges. That one beer or shot of tequila that started as teenage experimentation may become a criminal law downfall just because you had the misfortune of being pulled over.

Otherwise, the same defenses used in adult DUI cases also apply in the underage situations. Attorneys may challenge breathalyzer results since their accuracy decreases when attempting to detect small BAC amounts. After a file review, attorneys may discover an illegal stop, mishandled field sobriety test or other errors at arrest that could dismiss the charges. While this is not guaranteed, we examine all possibilities to design a complete defense strategy.

Contact an Experienced Memphis DUI Attorney

The issues with underage DUI require a skilled criminal attorney with experience handling these cases. Call the Hamilton Law Firm in Memphis, TN as soon as possible so we can start designing your defense.