A Closer Look at Underage DUI in Virginia: How the Law Differentiates Between an Under-21 Offense and Regular DUI
Underage DUI in Virginia charges are serious, carry serious penalties and long-term consequences
Virginia DUI laws can be daunting, particularly when a case involves juveniles or individuals under the Virginia legal drinking age of 21. The Code of Virginia includes a separate statute, section 18.2-266.1, for driving under the influence for drivers under the age of 21. Despite also being known as a “Baby DUI,” a juvenile or Under 21 DUI charge in Virginia can still carry serious consequences and greatly impact the future of the underage drinker.
Through the course of this article, we’ll delve into the specifics of Underage DUI in Virginia, exploring its contrasts with a regular DUI charge, the associated penalties, and the advisable steps to take if faced with such a charge. By shedding light on these areas, we hope to provide a clearer understanding of what an Underage DUI in Virginia charge entails, aiding in better-informed decisions should you or a loved one face charges.
How does an Underage DUI in Virginia differ from a regular DUI?
Virginia underage DUI charges differ from regular DUI charges in two key respects. First, the driver has to be shown to be under the age of 21. Second, the alcohol concentration required to convict an under-21 driver is lower than a regular DUI. In Virginia, the legal limit for Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is 0.08% for individuals aged 21 and older–this means that anyone with a BAC of 0.08% or higher is considered to be driving under the influence. For drivers under the age of 21, the standard is more strict and driving while intoxicated by almost any amount of alcohol is a serious criminal offense. Any blood alcohol concentration between .02 and .08 is enough to result in a conviction. Underage DUI in Virginia charges do not cover situations involving intoxicants other than alcohol.
It is important to note that if the evidence indicates a BAC of .08 or higher, a charge of regular DUI could be taken out against a driver, even if they’re under the age of 21.
What is the punishment if I’m convicted of an Underage DUI in Virginia?
Apart from the required proof being different, Underage DUIs carry slightly different penalties. Drivers convicted of an Underage DUI in Virginia are guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor and lose their Virginia driver’s license for 12 months, just like with a regular DUI. However, the mandatory minimum fine is $500 instead of $250. Unlike a regular DUI, the underage DUI statute does allow for a convicted driver to complete 50 hours of community service instead of paying that mandatory fine.
As with a regular DUI, a driver convicted of an underage DUI in Virginia can attend an alcohol safety program through ASAP and, at the court’s discretion, may be given a restricted driver’s license during the 12-month license suspension period. This allows the driver to travel to and from work, school, places of worship, etc.
An underage DUI results in 6 demerit points on a driver’s Virginia DMV record, the same as a regular DUI or a reckless driving conviction. While a regular DUI is kept by the DMV on a Virginia driver’s record for 11 years, an underage DUI stays on a Virginia driving record for only 3 years.
What can I do if I’ve been charged with an underage DUI in Virginia?
Facing an underage DUI in Virginia charge can be a stressful and complex situation. It’s crucial to handle it with a clear understanding of the legal process and your rights. Here’s a step-by-step guide on what to do if you or a loved one is facing such a charge:
Remain Calm and Compliant
It’s essential to stay calm and be cooperative with law enforcement officers during the arrest.
Avoid admitting guilt or providing any unnecessary statements without legal counsel present.
Seek Legal Representation
Hiring an experienced Virginia DUI defense attorney who is familiar with Virginia’s underage drinking laws is crucial. David G. Parker Law can help navigate the legal process, provide advice, and work to protect your rights.
Understand the Charges and Potential Consequences
Learn about the charges, the potential penalties, and how Virginia law applies to underage drinking and driving cases. An attorney can explain the legal jargon and possible outcomes of the case.
Collect and Preserve Evidence
Work with your attorney to collect any evidence that might support your case.
This includes photographs, witness statements, and any other relevant information.
Adhere to Legal Advice and Court Requirements
Follow your attorney’s advice and ensure you attend all required court appearances.
Adhering to court-imposed conditions, such as attending an alcohol education program or performing community service, is crucial.
Explore Legal Defenses
Your attorney may explore various defenses, like challenging the legality of the traffic stop or the accuracy and admissibility of BAC test results.
Maintain a Clean Record
Avoid any further legal trouble and adhere to any court-imposed conditions throughout the process.
Prepare for the Long-term Implications
Understand the long-term consequences of a conviction, including how it may affect employment and educational opportunities. Discuss with your attorney any steps that can be taken to minimize the long-term impact, such as expungement.
Stay Informed and Engaged
Stay engaged with your attorney, keep informed about the progress of your case, and ensure you understand any legal documents or court orders.
Reach out to supportive friends, family, or professional counseling services to help cope with the stress and emotional toll of facing legal charges.
This process can be a trying experience, but with the right legal guidance and support, it’s possible to navigate through it in a way that protects your rights and future. Reach out today to experienced former prosecutor David G. Parker to gain a clearer understanding of the underage DUI process and the steps you can take moving forward. Your journey towards addressing this charge can start with a simple, professional discussion. Contact us to schedule a free and confidential consultation.