How the Courts Treat Underage DUI Cases in Manassas
Under Commonwealth law, a person under the age of 21 can be charged with driving under the influence despite not being legally intoxicated. This allows for a fair bit of leeway in some cases. A skilled drunk driving attorney could explain to a defendant how Manassas courts treat underage DUI cases and to best approach their defense.
When Minors Get a DUI
If the defendant is 18 years or older, then that case will be heard in general district court as with any other adult case. A minor who is charged with a DUI would be heard in the juvenile and domestic relations court.
Underage DUI charges are taken seriously in Manassas. Judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement often see underage DUI cases as an opportunity to prevent someone from causing more serious problems for themselves or others in the future. Without an element of intoxication involved, however, a case can be less severe than a standard DUI.
How Do Courts Treat Cases of Underage DUI?
In many instances, the outcome of a case will be determined largely by factors such as the age of the defendant and the amount of alcohol involved. Someone who is on the verge of turning 21 years old and has a BAC that is just barely above 0.02 would most likely be less of a concern to the prosecutor than someone who has a high BAC and is much younger.
With the flexibility built into the underage DUI statute, having an attorney working with the defendant to reduce the overall punishment is especially beneficial.
What to Expect in the Court Process
In Virginia, defendants aged 18 to 20 should expect their case to be handled the same way as an adult. Someone who is charged with a DUI will have their case set for trial, and if they need time to hire an attorney, they would be able to do so.
Typically, defense attorneys in Manassas obtain most or all the evidence for the trial prior to the court date. This means they have access to the discovery, including body camera footage and police cruiser videos, to analyze prior to the first court date. It is necessary to continue a case to receive more information, and judges tend to be understanding about allowing attorneys to have that time. Prosecutors are typically assigned to cases on the day of court, so there will not typically be a prosecutor assigned to an underage DUI case in advance.
On the morning of the hearing, prosecutors will meet with the defense attorney to discuss the relevant factors of the case. The defense attorney has the opportunity to present all of the positive information about the defendant in order to negotiate the best possible outcome.
How Are the Outcomes Different from a Standard DUI Case?
The procedures and steps in an underage drunk driving case will be the same as in a standard DUI, but some of the outcomes may be different. Someone who is convicted of an underage DUI may have their license suspended, have to complete mandatory community service, or pay a fine. They will not necessarily have to complete the same alcohol action programs attended by individuals found guilty of more serious DUIs.
An Attorney Knows How the Courts Treat Underage DUI Cases
Driving while intoxicated is a serious offense no matter the age of the driver. However, there are unique situations in which a Manassas court could treat an underage DUI case with some leniency, especially if the defendant is near the legal age or had a BAC level far below .08.
A trustworthy lawyer could provide guidance and support as you navigate the justice system. Call now for a confidential consultation.