Representing Young Drivers Facing Charges
A DUI charge is a serious problem for drivers of any age, but especially for those under 21. In Virginia, young drivers are subject to a zero-tolerance law and can face significant consequences for ingesting alcohol before operating a motor vehicle. The attorneys at The Law Office of Scott C. Nolan, PLLC, explain how underage DUI cases are handled in Virginia and why hiring an attorney for your DUI case is in your best interests. If you are facing underage DUI charges, call The Law Office of Scott C. Nolan, PLLC, at 703-688-9236.
What Is an Underage DUI?
In Virginia, the legal BAC (blood alcohol content) limit for drivers 21 and over is 0.08%. However, drivers under 21 are subject to much stricter standards. Under Virginia’s zero-tolerance law, any driver under 21 with a BAC of 0.02 or higher may be charged with underage DUI. This is a much lower limit than the 0.08 legal limit for drivers 21 and over – in fact, it can easily be exceeded with a single alcoholic beverage, depending on the person’s weight and metabolism.
In addition to the zero-tolerance law, drivers under 21 in Virginia may also be charged with a DUI if they are found to be impaired due to the consumption of alcohol, regardless of their BAC. This means that even if their BAC is below 0.02, they could still be facing a DUI if an officer has enough reasons to believe that their driving was affected by the consumption of alcohol.
What Are the Penalties for an Underage DUI in Virginia?
The penalties for an underage DUI in Virginia can be significant. If convicted of an underage DUI, the driver may face a maximum fine of $500 and a one-year driver’s license suspension. In addition, the driver may be required to undergo a court-ordered substance abuse counseling program. If the driver committed additional offenses, such as being in possession of alcohol or presenting a fake I.D., that driver may be subject to additional fines, jail time, or both.
Furthermore, the penalties for an underage DUI in Virginia can be even harsher if the underage driver is found to have a BAC of 0.08 or higher or if they have a prior DUI conviction. In these cases, the driver may face a standard DUI charge, which can result in a maximum fine of $2,500, a jail sentence of up to one year, and a license suspension. A conviction can also result in six points being added to the driver’s record, which could lead to other unwanted consequences, such as an increase in the driver’s auto insurance rates.
Can I Be Kicked Out of College for an Underage DUI?
Many underage DUIs are committed by college students, who are often unfamiliar with DUI laws or choose to ignore them. College students may be more likely to engage in risky behavior due to peer pressure or due to having more freedom and easier access to alcoholic drinks than at home, making it a temptation to ingest alcoholic drinks and get behind the steering wheel without thinking about the possible consequences of their actions.
Most colleges and universities have their own policies condoning the irresponsible use of alcohol and prescribing disciplinary actions for students who engage in drunk driving. Common examples of consequences for college students charged with a DUI can include a loss of scholarship money, suspension from classes, or even being told to move out of on-campus housing. For student-athletes, a DUI conviction may even result in being kicked out from their respective sports teams. It is in your best interest to contact a skilled DUI defense attorney to discuss your case as soon as you are arrested and charged.
Why Should I Hire a DUI Attorney for My Case?
If you are an underage driver charged with a DUI, you may want to contact a skilled DUI defense attorney as soon as possible. Even if you end up not facing any jail time, an underage DUI is considered a class 1 misdemeanor, which means a conviction would leave you with a criminal record that may affect several aspects of your life for years to come.
You may have difficulty securing employment or taking advantage of any opportunities that require passing a background check. If your license is suspended, you may have trouble commuting to work or school or may need to apply for a restricted license and have an ignition interlocking device installed in your vehicle. Your auto insurance rates may double or triple, and, in some cases, your auto insurance company may not want to continue your coverage.
However, the good news is that if you are charged with underage DUI, it does not have to mean you are automatically convicted. By taking prompt action and hiring a skilled DUI defense attorney, you may have a chance of having your charges dropped or reduced. The attorneys at The Law Office of Scott C. Nolan, PLLC, have helped countless underage drivers in Fairfax, VA, and surrounding areas to fight back against DUI charges and avoid all the harsh consequences that may come with a conviction. We can investigate your case and build a defense strategy to help you protect your rights and increase your chances of a positive outcome.
If you have been charged with underage DUI, contact the attorneys at The Law Office of Scott C. Nolan, PLLC, by calling 703-688-9236 and requesting an initial consultation to discuss your case and learn more about how we can help you.