If you are under 18, you may still be charged with violating the Virginia Code Section 18.2 – 266 or 18.2 – 266.1 depending on your level of impairment and blood alcohol level. Simply because you are a minor does not exclude you from prosecution pursuant to these code sections, which means you should consult with a Loudoun County underage DUI lawyer as soon as possible after you have been charged. A DUI lawyer in Loudoun County can assist in building the strongest defense possible for your case and helping you take all the necessary steps to help your case before a trial every takes place.
If your blood alcohol content is less than .08 but greater than .02 you should expect that even as a minor you will be charged with violating Virginia Code Section 18.2 – 266.1, otherwise known as Underage or “Baby” DUI. This DUI, while it may be subject to JDR court procedures for juveniles, will likely have similar collateral consequences as if there was an adult offense for someone who is under 21.
In Virginia, BAC is determined in a variety of ways. Two of the most common ways BAC is determined is through a breath test on an EC/IR II machine which tests the presence of alcohol in the body and through a blood test after blood is drawn at a hospital. For someone under 21, the legal limit is .02, which is essentially a Zero Tolerance Policy. When someone has blood alcohol content greater than .02 but less than .08 they may be charged with a violation of Code Section 18.2 – 266.1. If the person is under the influence of drugs and alcohol and a breath test is otherwise unavailable, the person may be taken to the hospital for a blood test.
If you are charged with a DUI and you are under the age of 18, you should expect that your case will originate in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court at 18 East Market Street, Leesburg, Virginia. This is within the Town of Leesburg in the courthouse complex, on the same floor as the adult general district court further down the hallway past the double wooden doors. If you are under 18 and charged with this offense you should expect that your case will proceed similar to any other juvenile traffic misdemeanor.
First, there will be an arraignment. Then there may be a trial date and potentially an additional hearing after that trial date once your case has been evaluated by a juvenile probation officer. Under its unique jurisdiction, the juvenile court has the ability to make more creative findings in the areas of DUI laws than an adult district court will be able to do.
However, there are certain mandatory provisions that apply if a juvenile case is involved. If you are a juvenile delinquent and the facts are sufficient for finding of guilt, the court shall impose 12 months loss of license, or if you are an out-of-state driver, 12 months loss of your privilege to operate in Virginia. There shall be a mandatory minimum fine of $500 or 50 hours of community service to be performed and there may be additional penalties imposed depending on the facts and circumstances of your case. The 50 hours of community service and 12 months loss of license are simply minimums and the court has the ability to come down more harshly consistent with the penalties available for a Class 1 Misdemeanor. For this reason, it is imperative that those accused of a DUI consult with an underage DUI lawyer in Loudoun County regardless of whether they are under 21 or 18.
Cases involving DUIs and minors are taken very seriously because it is a very serious safety issue to have a person consuming alcohol and then having the underage driver behind the wheel in an impaired state. These types of offenses are often seen on the news or seen in media when minors are involved in accidents or tragic circumstances involving cars and alcohol. It is a little cliché in that the videos shown by the traffic schools from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s involving minors and alcohol are often not taken seriously.
However, every year there are countless numbers of local news stories of accidents involving alcohol. Therefore, underage DUIs are taken extremely seriously, and if you are a minor charged with a DUI related offense you should expect that your case will be prosecuted very seriously. There will be significant hurdles to gain your full privileges after a DUI charge, which is another reason why consulting with a Loudoun County underage DUI attorney is so important.
Due to the wide discretion of the juvenile and domestic relations court, as well as the ample areas for legal challenges in DUI law, it is important to hire an experienced underage DUI attorney in Loudoun County even if you are a minor with a first offense of DUI. There may be penalties and punishments that are not necessarily appropriate to your case that may be imposed if you do not have an experienced counsel on your side that knows the court, knows the prosecutor and knows how to get the best results for you.
The juvenile and domestic relations district court hears serious cases involving juveniles all the time, so it is important to be best prepared when going into that court. This includes knowing how to dress appropriately, how to act, how to address the court and what sort of evidence is presented to the court. These things can be developed and a person could have a greater amount of success when an experienced DUI attorney is at their side.
Patrick Woolley Attorney At Law