Charged with Underage DUI in Florida?
Take control of the situation with a Lakeland DUI defense attorney
A DUI always has the potential to ruin someone’s future, and that’s particularly true for drivers under age 21 with so much future ahead of them. An under-21 DUI carries significant consequences in itself, but perhaps the most serious consequence is derailing a young person’s life because of one mistake – or just bad luck.
That’s why you need to fight back with an experienced Lakeland DUI defense lawyer who knows how to defend under-21 DUI charges in Polk County. If you, or your child, was charged with DUI under 21, contact Thomas C. Grajek, Attorney at Law today to discuss your legal options.
What counts as DUI for a Florida driver under 21?
The State of Florida has a “zero tolerance” rule for underage drinking and driving, although that’s actually a bit of a misnomer. The legal limit for a driver under age 21 is a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.02, which is well below the 0.08 limit for drivers over 21 for the administrative suspension.
What are the penalties for under-21 DUI?
If an underage driver has a BAC of 0.08 or higher – that is, the legal limit for drivers over 21 – then it’s treated the same way as any other DUI charge, with penalties including a fine, license suspension, vehicle impoundment, community service, and possible jail time.
If the underage driver’s BAC is at least 0.02 but below 0.08, then administrative penalties are different, but more significant. These penalties may include:
- License suspension: up to six months for a first conviction, and up to one year for a second or subsequent conviction.
- DUI evaluation and course, if the BAC was 0.05 or higher.
- Fines, probation, and community service.
If a driver under 21 refuses a breath or blood test, their driver’s license will be suspended for one year. The penalty for a second or subsequent refusal is a license suspension for 18 months.
Get a lawyer who knows how to defend under-21 DUI cases
Underage DUI charges don’t go through the standard criminal process for over-21 DUI charges. They’re handled through a separate administrative process through the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
That said, even though the process is different, the defense strategies are similar. An experienced attorney can question whether the officer had reasonable suspicion for the traffic stop or probable cause to suspect DUI. Your lawyer may be able to challenge the results of a field sobriety exercise or chemical DUI test. In addition, it’s possible to challenge the license suspension in the formal review process to avoid long-term consequences for your driving record.
The key is to act fast. There are critical deadlines that come up soon in the administrative process, and the clock starts ticking at the moment of the arrest. If you, or your child, has been charged with under-21 DUI, I can help. Use the online contact form or call 863-688-4606 to discuss your situation with an experienced DUI defense attorney.