Navigating the intricacies of the legal system after being charged with a DUI can be daunting, particularly for first-time offenders. In West Palm Beach, Florida, our dedicated team is committed to guiding first-time offenders through the complex legal landscape. We understand the profound impact a DUI can have on your driver’s license, career and schooling. And that’s where we come in. We understand that good people make bad mistakes, and we’re here to help advocate for you and guide you through the process to get the best possible outcome for your underage DUI case in West Palm Beach, Florida. Underage drinking and driving is a serious issue in West Palm Beach and all of Florida. About 1 in 4 teen car crashes involved an underage driver under the influence. If you are underage and charged with a DUI, understanding the nuances of the law is crucial to your case. Let’s dive into what exactly happens when someone under the legal drinking age of 21 is arrested for driving under the influence when underage in Florida.
What Happens if You Get a DUI Under 18 in Florida?
Individuals under 18 years of age in Florida who are charged with a DUI face not only criminal charges, but also administrative consequences. Criminally, you may be charged with a misdemeanor which would result in mandatory community service, legal fines, and the possibility of probation. If this is a subsequent DUI, your license can be suspended for an entire year. Administratively, your driving privileges can be revoked for a minimum of 6 months or more. Aside from the legal consequences, there are other repercussions teens face if charged with driving under the influence. Many insurance companies will not provide auto insurance for a teen who receives a DUI conviction. Teens are also likely to face repercussions at school such as suspension or even expulsion. Being charged with an underage DUI will also make it difficult to gain acceptance into certain colleges or universities, enter the military, obtain scholarships or certain professional licenses such as a license to carry a firearm.
What Happens if You Get a DUI Under 21 in Florida?
For those older than 18 years of age, but still younger than the legal drinking age of 21, the consequences are similar, but can be even more severe. Depending on the blood alcohol concentration (BAC), the consequences can range from probation, hefty legal fines, mandatory DUI school, revocation of your driver’s license, and the possibility of imprisonment. If enrolled in college or university, it is also possible that they will face repercussions at school such as suspension or even expulsion.
What is the Legal BAC Limit Under 21 in Florida?
The standard BAC limit for individuals over the legal drinking age of 21 is 0.08%, but Florida maintains a zero-tolerance policy for drivers under 21. This means any BAC level of 0.02% or higher can result in DUI charges for those underage. If the underage driver has a BAC of 0.08% or higher, then they will be treated as a driver of legal drinking age. This means the legal consequences are just as severe, if not even more so.
Penalties for Underage DUI in Florida
The severity of penalties for underage DUI depends on various factors like BAC level, whether it’s a repeat offense, and if any damages, injuries, or in serious cases - death, was involved. Common penalties for receiving an underage DUI in Florida include:
Immediate license suspension: This can last from a minimum of 6 months to a year for a first-time offense. If this is a repeat offense, the license may be suspended for at least an entire year. It’s important to know that driving with a suspended license is also considered a crime, with the possibility of more legal fees and even possible jail time if convicted.
Legal Fines: These can range between $50 and $200 depending on the specifics of the underage DUI charge.
DUI School: First-time offenders will typically be required to attend DUI school before their license can be reinstated. If this is your first offense, you may be eligible for the Palm Beach County DUI Diversion Program. It’s important to contact a lawyer as soon as possible to find out if this is an option for you, or if fighting the charge is your best option.
Community Service: Often mandated for underage offenders, particularly if it’s a first-time offense.
Administrative License Revocation Hearings for Underage DUI in FL
An essential aspect of underage DUI charges is the administrative license revocation (ALR) hearing. This is separate from the criminal trial. After a DUI arrest, the offender’s license is immediately confiscated, and they’re given a temporary permit. They only have ten days to request an ALR hearing. If they fail to do so, the license suspension becomes effective. This hearing is an opportunity to challenge the license suspension, and having an experienced attorney by your side can significantly influence the outcome of your hearing.
Find an Attorney for Underage DUI in West Palm Beach FL
Facing a DUI charge, especially as a first-time offender, can evoke feelings of overwhelming stress, uncertainty, and guilt. Our primary mission is to alleviate these anxieties. We firmly believe that everyone deserves a strong legal defense and fair trial, regardless of age or circumstances.If you or a loved one is facing an underage DUI charge in West Palm Beach, Florida, securing a skilled DUI defense attorney is crucial for your case. Our expertise in Palm Beach County’s DUI laws ensures that your best interests are protected. Remember, a DUI charge is not a conviction. With the right legal support, you can navigate this challenging period and protect your future. Check out our free guide “What You Must Know About Your DUI Case Before You Do Anything: Attacking DUI Myths That Will Hurt Your Case” and contact us for more detailed expert legal advice for your case - we’re available 24/7 on our site or by phone.