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What if an underage person is charged with drinking and driving?

In Virginia, with the start of a new college semester on the immediate horizon, young people will be heading off to school. With that, there will likely be the temptation to drink alcohol. This is perfectly legal for people 21 and older. However, people who are not legally of age to drink might partake in drinking alcohol even if they are under the legal age to do so. It does not necessarily mean college students. Even high school students are vulnerable to the temptation. While this is illegal in and of itself, the situation can grow serious if the juvenile gets behind the wheel. Knowing the potential penalties is crucial to mounting a defense after charges for drinking underage and driving.

Understanding the law for underage drinking and driving

The law is clear and is based on “Zero Tolerance” meaning that Virginia does not allow anyone under 21 to drink and drive without consequences. For adults, the legal limit in which there will be charge for driving while intoxicated (DWI) is 0.08% blood-alcohol concentration. For juveniles, it is 0.02%. If they are stopped and register between 0.02% and less than 0.08%, it is a Class 1 misdemeanor and they will be confronted with various penalties.

If there is a conviction, the driver’s license will be suspended for one year from that date. There will be a minimum fine of $500 and the juvenile will be obligated to perform 50 hours of community service. Even with a conviction, it is possible to attend a program dedicated to alcohol safety and the juvenile may be given a restricted license to drive while serving the suspension.

Juveniles should know the challenges they may face with a conviction

While the penalties might not sound as if they are all that severe, there can be long-term problems if they are convicted of alcohol offenses while underage and these can impact their future goals. Having a conviction on the record can inhibit the types of jobs a person can get, cause a problem with being admitted to college and delay or prevent entering the military. It is a negative mark on the record that should be addressed and avoided if possible with a viable criminal defense. Simply because there was a charge does not automatically imply guilt. There can be options to lodge a defense. Having professional guidance that is experienced in these types of cases can be critical to achieve a positive result.