Kids – especially teenagers and young adults – do a lot of foolish things, right? Most of them are just impulsive acts of mischief that don’t lead to any real consequences.
This isn’t the case, however, when you’re talking about Driving Under the Influence (DUI) while underage in Pennsylvania. The state takes these cases very seriously, and the consequences can be extreme.
What are the penalties for underage DUIs?
While adults may or may not be arrested for drunk driving when chemical testing shows that their blood alcohol content (BAC) is elevated, the general rule is that you aren’t legally considered “too impaired to drive” until your BAC is .08% or higher.
For those under 21 years old, however, Pennsylvania is among the many states that impose zero-tolerance laws. In this case, that means that an underage driver can be convicted of a DUI if they have a blood alcohol content reading of .02% or higher. This is often established through the use of a Breathalyzer or similar device at the scene of the traffic stop.
Once arrested, the underage driver faces these potential penalties:
- Fines from $500 to $5,000
- The loss of their license for 12 to 18 months
- 48 hours to six months in jail
Before being sentenced, underage defendants must also take a drug and alcohol evaluation. A judge reviews the results and can order treatment and up to 150 hours of community service. The court may also order the defendant to attend a panel discussion by people whose lives have been impacted by DUI. First and second-time offenders must also complete an alcohol highway safety program.
Convictions for underage drunk driving have far-reaching collateral consequences. The offense can show up in background checks as your young person looks for jobs or apartments and applies to schools. Any subsequent convictions will almost certainly result in steeper penalties.
If your child made a mistake, find out what it takes to secure the best possible defense for their situation.