When we’re young, we make decisions we come to regret when we’re older. Maybe you cut school and ended up getting in trouble. Or perhaps you didn’t go to college and now you can’t make more than minimum wage. One such mistake you can make as a teenager is to drink and drive. It’s illegal to drink alcohol unless you’re at least 21 years old. It doesn’t matter what state you live in – that’s the law. So, when it comes to being charged with DUI, the laws are stricter for underage drinkers.
Part of the reason the law is stricter is because it’s illegal to drink when you’re not of age. But another reason is that young drivers are already more at risk of causing an accident. When you add alcohol into the mix, the results can be devastating. The courts would rather deter people early on rather than risk them killing themselves or someone else.
If you’re under 21 and have been charged with DUI, you’re going to need a good DUI defense lawyer in Atlanta. You’re going to be facing fines, license suspension and even jail time. Just because you’re underage doesn’t mean you won’t go to jail. The law doesn’t discriminate.
What is the Law for DUI When it Comes to Underage Drivers?
The law in Georgia when it comes to drunk driving is clear. If you’re caught driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher, you’re considered drunk. You’ll be arrested and charged with DUI.
For underage drivers, the BAC threshold is even lower. If someone underage is pulled over for DUI, the legal limit is only .02. If someone has just one or two beers, their BAC could very well register at .02 or higher. The legislature chose this level on purpose. They want to deter underage drivers from drinking – period.
For underage drivers, there is one additional charge they could face. Even if your BAC is lower than .02, if the police suspect you’ve been drinking at all, they can charge you with a separate crime. This is something called DUI less safe.
A DUI less safe basically means that you’re drank any amount of alcohol that makes you less safe than if you hadn’t drank anything at all.
What Penalties Do Underage Driver Face After Being Charged With DUI?
The penalties for underage drivers are similar to those for other drivers. Regardless of your age, if you’re charged with DUI, you’ll be facing the following penalties in Georgia:
- First Offense:
- Fines anywhere from $300 to $1,000
- 24 hours to 12 months in jail
- At least 20 hours of community service
- Must complete your community service within 60 days of your conviction
- Attend mandatory DUI Risk Reduction Program
- Driver’s license suspension of at least 6 months
- 2nd Offense:
- Fines from $600 to $1,000
- 72 hours to 12 months in jail
- 30 days of community service
- License suspension of at least 6 months
- Mandatory DUI Risk Reduction Program
- 3rd Offense:
- Fines from $1,000 to $5,000
- 15 days to 12 months in jail
- 30 days of community service
- License suspension for 18 months to 5 years
As you can see, underage drivers can be sentenced to jail. The amount of time they’ll spend in jail depends on the circumstances of their case. It also depends on whether or not they have an experienced DUI lawyer in Atlanta.
How Can a DUI Lawyer in Atlanta Help?
If your teen is arrested for underage DUI, they’re going to be facing some serious consequences. The penalties for DUI are serious and can affect the rest of their lives. That’s why it’s so important that you talk to an experienced DUI attorney in Georgia.
There are certain things your lawyer can do that you may not be able to do. Some of these things include:
- Negotiate with the prosecutor to get the charges reduced to a “DUI less safe” or wet reckless
- Get the State to drop or reduce the charges
- Negotiate a plea deal where your child doesn’t have to face any jail time
- Keep fines to a minimum
- Get your child the shortest possible license suspension
While you are able to plea bargain without a lawyer, it helps to have someone with the experience on their side. Call Howard & Arca today and schedule a skilled DUI lawyer in Atlanta as soon as possible. There isn’t a lot of time before your first court appearance. You want to make sure you have a skilled lawyer there to help.