Underage DUI Charges in Arlington
When someone is under the age of 21 and they are pulled over for suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol, they have multiple issues to worry about. They should not be drinking according to the law and they may be in violation of the law by driving after consuming alcoholic beverages. They might not reach a 0.08 blood alcohol content (BAC) required for an adult to be charged with drunk driving, but because it is illegal for minors to possess alcohol, driving with any measurable BAC is also a DUI violation for a driver under 21 years of age.
Additionally, the youth may be charged with possession of alcohol by a minor, or even charged as an adult for full DUI if their BAC is over the 0.08 threshold. If you or your child is facing underage DUI charges in Arlington, it is essential that you begin working with an experienced drunk driving defense attorney right away. A qualified lawyer could guide you through the legal process and build a strong defense to best protect the minor’s future.
What Factors Determine Impairment in an Underage Driver?
Various elements could determine impairment in the case of an underage driver. The detaining officer may conduct field sobriety tests such as the nine-step walk-and-turn, horizontal gaze nystagmus, and one-legged stand tests as if the person were an adult. Officers might also ask the individual questions and look for responsive answers such as what time it is, where the person is going, where the person is coming from, how much they had to drink, and when they had their last drink. The law enforcement officer may ask the person to recite numbers or ABCs to test a person’s impairment. Sometimes, there are mental or physical tests known as split-attention tests that require an extra level of concentration that is harder to achieve when someone was consuming alcohol.
Eventually, the driver may be asked to perform a breathalyzer test or a blood test. Failure to perform these chemical tests may even lead to further charges. However, drivers in Virginia do not need to answer an officer’s questions at the side of the road or participate in field sobriety tests.
How Are Underage DUI Cases Treated in Arlington?
Prosecutors and judges take underage DUI cases very seriously because there is a violation of two separate laws. Underage DUI cases involve a young person who is not permitted by law to consume alcohol, but they also put others at risk by then getting behind the wheel.
They are often lectured by the prosecutor and/or judge about the dangers of impaired driving. It is an opportunity for an individual who is charged to consult an attorney to learn about the serious consequences of their actions and identify any defenses that may exist. If they are convicted or charged with a similar offense, it is an opportunity for them to learn from their mistakes, including taking classes.
However, underage DUI charges in Arlington are generally not sentenced as stringently as adult DUIs. They may not have the same ramifications like suspended jail time or high fined like their adult counterparts. However, there may also be other serious consequences such as ineligibility for a restricted license, community service, requiring completion of initial programs, and counseling to make sure this is a one-time mistake and does not happen again.
Ways an Arlington Attorney Could Help Underage DUI Defendants
A youth’s future could be drastically affected by a conviction for drunk driving at a young age. Any criminal charge is serious, but drunk driving while a minor usually qualifies as two crimes. To protect that future and fight these charges, consult a strong criminal defense lawyer. To start handling your underage DUI charges in Arlington, call today and schedule a case consultation.