West Palm Beach Underage DUI Lawyer
“Zero-Tolerance Law” for Underage Drinking and Driving
Florida has a "zero-tolerance law" for underage motorists driving under the influence. Whereas a person 21 years of age or older may be charged with a DUI for having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher, a person under the age of 21 can be charged for having a BAC of .02 or higher.
Underage drivers who violate the zero-tolerance law may face both criminal charges in court and an administrative driver's license suspension through the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV).
What Are the Administrative Suspension Laws for Underage DUI in Florida?
If a police officer has probable cause to believe a person under the age of 21 is driving or in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or has any alcohol level, the officer may detain them and request a breath-alcohol test. Unlike a DUI for a person 21 years of age or older, the underage driver's normal faculties do not have to be impaired, so long as the underage driver has any alcohol in their system.
In Florida, underage DUI can result in the DHSMV imposing an administrative driver's license suspension.
The length of time an underage drinker could lose their driving privileges is as follows:
- 6 months for a first suspension for a person with a BAC of .02 or above;
- 1 year for a second or subsequent suspension for a person with a BAC of .02 or above;
- 1 year for a first suspension for a refusal to submit a breath, urine, or blood test;
- 18 months for a second or subsequent refusal to submit a breath, urine, or blood test.
If the underage driver had a BAC of .05 or higher, the administrative driver's license suspension will remain until the underage driver completes a substance abuse course (at their own expense).
Helping You Challenge the Suspension of Your Driving Privileges
If you were arrested for underage DUI, the DHSMV's administrative sanctions could have profound impacts on your driving privileges, affecting your ability to go about life as you once did. If your license is administratively suspended, you have the right to request a formal review hearing to challenge the suspension at the DHSMV. However, you only have ten days from the date of the arrest to request an administrative hearing. Because of the quick turnaround, it is important that you immediately contact an attorney to discuss your options. Our West Palm Beach underage DUI attorney is prepared to zealously advocate on your behalf at your hearing and can help you present an effective defense against the suspension of your driver's license. We'll be by your side every step of the way.
What are the Criminal Penalties for Underage DUI in Florida?
As we discussed above, underage drivers accused of DUI face different challenges. First, law enforcement can lawfully detain an underage driver and request a breath test based on whether the officer has probable cause to believe the underage driver is under the influence of any amount of alcohol. Second, the BAC required to convict an underage driver for DUI (.02) is far less than the BAC for a person 21 years of age or older (.08). Third, underage drivers face different administrative regulations through the DHSMV.
However, underage drivers face the same criminal penalties as all other drivers.
For a first-time DUI offense, a conviction could result in:
- A fine between $500 and $1,000;
- Up to 6 months in jail;
- Up to 12 months of probation;
- Driver's license suspension for 6 to 12 months;
- 10-day vehicle immobilization;
- 50 hours of community service; and
- DUI School and completion of any recommended treatment
If you are charged with a second or subsequent DUI, a criminal conviction will result in more serious penalties.