Driving Under the Influence When You are Under 21
The legal drinking age in all fifty states is twenty-one. If you are under the age of twenty-one and are caught driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the consequences can be severe. In Florida and Georgia, it is illegal to operate a vehicle if you are under 21 and your blood alcohol content (BAC) percentage is 0.02% or higher. While DUI laws are harsh for anyone caught driving under the influence, the laws are even stricter if you are under the age of 21. Not only do you face losing your license, you may have to pay thousands of dollars in fines and spend time in jail.
Florida Underage DUI Penalties
Even if this is your first underage DUI offense, the punishment for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in Florida is harsh. If your BAC measures 0.02% or higher, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) will suspend your license for six months. If this is your second underage DUI offense, the DHSMV will suspend your driver’s license for one year. Additionally, should your BAC register 0.05% or higher, your license suspension will remain in effect until after you complete a substance abuse evaluation and course.
In the State of Florida, when you accept the privilege of driving a car, you are deemed to have given your consent to allow law enforcement to test your breath, blood and urine in connection with a lawful DUI arrest. If you are under the age of 21 and refuse to submit to testing, your license will be suspended for one year. If this is your second refusal, your license will be suspended for 18 months.
In addition to the administrative suspension of your license, if your BAC is 0.08% or higher you will face the same criminal fines and penalties under Florida law as a driver who is over the age of 21. If this is your first DUI, your fines will be $500 to $1,000 and you could face up to six months in jail. In the event your BAC measures 0.15% or more, or if a minor was with you in the vehicle, your fine will increase to $1,000 to $2,000 and you could be sentenced to up to nine months in jail. If this is not your first DUI, or if you have injured or killed another person, you will face enhanced fines and penalties.
Georgia Underage DUI Penalties
Similar to Florida, Georgia imposes strict fines and penalties when a person under the age of 21 drives after consuming alcohol or drugs. If this is your first DUI offense and your BAC is less than 0.08%, your driver’s license will be suspended for six months. If your BAC is 0.08% or higher, you will face a one-year suspension of your driver’s license. Additionally, if this is your second underage DUI conviction, your license will be suspended for three years.
Georgia law, like Florida, requires drivers to submit to a request for breath, blood or urine test when they are lawfully arrested by an officer for a DUI. If this is your first refusal of an officer’s request, your license will be suspended for one year. If this is your second refusal, your license suspension will be for three years.
Individuals convicted of an underage DUI also face criminal punishment. Georgia’s criminal penalties for underage DUI are similar to the penalties for individuals over the age of 21. For instance, if this is your first DUI offense, you are under 21, and your BAC registers 0.08% or higher, you will face a minimum of 24 hours in jail, with a potential sentence of up to one year in jail and your criminal fines will range between $300 and $1,000. If you have been convicted of a DUI before, or if your DUI involved certain aggravated circumstances, the criminal sanctions will be even more severe.
Protect Your Future - Contact a Panama City DUI Drunk Driving Lawyer
In addition to the fines and penalties set forth above, a DUI can seriously impact your future. You may be required to disclose your conviction when applying for a job, submitting a college application or even requesting certain types of financial aid. Because the consequences for underage drinking and driving are so severe, you need to make certain that you have a strong DUI defense attorney on your side. Attorney Gus Soto is an experienced drunk driving lawyer who handles underage DUI cases in South Georgia and North Florida, including Panama City. Attorney Soto offers free consultations in underage DUI cases and can be reached 24/7 by calling 1-888-440-7686 or completing the online contact form.