What Parents Should Know About Underage DUI Cases in Loudoun County
There are a variety of different things that come into play in an underage DUI case that parents need to be aware of. For starters, after the arrest, parents should expect that there will be an administrative license suspension and potentially criminal penalties, similar to if the offense was committed by an adult. In addition, it is important for parents to know how much leeway the court has in sentencing and the circumstances under which their child is eligible to receive a restricted license. For more information on these types of charges or what actions can be taken to help your child, call a Loudoun County underage DUI lawyer today.
Pursuant to 18.2 – 266.1 if the person is underage then a DUI is still classified as a Class 1 misdemeanor. However, there are certain mandatory minimum punishments associated with this offense that are not necessarily associated with an adult’s first-time DUI. These penalties make the case more analogous to an underage possession of alcohol combined with a DUI rather than simply an adult who can lawfully consume alcohol who then gets a DUI.
The mandatory penalties that parents and defenders should be aware of are a suspension of license to operate a motor vehicle in the Commonwealth of Virginia for a period of one year, a mandatory minimum fine of either $500 or performance of a mandatory minimum of 50 hours of community service. This is in addition to the impending administrative license suspension which can be a 7-day suspension or a 60-day suspension that may occur at the time of the arrest.
Receiving a Restricted License
If you are convicted of an underage DUI you will be required to attend and complete the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program, and at the discretion of the court, be able to receive a restricted license during the term of the license suspension. Courts are very hesitant to issue a restricted license for someone under 21 who has received a DUI especially if their blood-alcohol content is above .08.
Adults may need a restricted license to go to work, provide for families, and maintain employment but someone under 21 may be asking for driving privileges to go to and from school or college. The courts are sometimes reluctant to grant a permissive, restricted license and if they do, it is often very limited in its scope.
Court Discretion in DUI Cases
Parents should be aware that the courts have a lot of discretion and that their child will face a significant punishment. In Virginia, a parent or guardian is required to attend the juvenile and domestic relations district court proceedings with the minor. The minor will be served with a petition that requires their parents to attend. Failure to appear will result in a show cause or there may be a case against the parents if they choose not to participate in their child’s case.
The parents should know that their participation will be required and the court may ask them some questions. The court will expect that the parents have taken some action when a minor is charged with a DUI. The court may expect that some privileges be taken away and that the parents treat the violation seriously and talk to their kids about the importance of abstaining from alcohol until legally able to consume it. The court certainly expects something from the parents and it is the part of the DUI attorney’s job to explain to the parents the process and what they are likely to expect.
Impact on Students
Depending on the university and the particular university’s honor code, it may be considered a violation of the university’s honor code or the code of student conduct to receive a DUI charge or a DUI conviction. College students should consult their college handbook and check their student code of conduct to determine if there can be collateral consequences or extrajudicial punishments if they receive either a DUI arrest or conviction. University processes may be something that can be challenged in addition to the legal procedures. If you are charged with a DUI related offense and you are currently in college, you need to consult your college handbook right away to see what rules and regulations may apply to you.
Will The University Find Out About An Arrest?
If someone is arrested for a DUI offense, it is a matter of public record and anyone can and will have the ability to search the public records and find out if the person has been charged. This is especially true for persons over 18. If the person is under 18, the juvenile record is not as readily accessible. For persons over 18, Virginia’s open records laws and open courtroom policies make it possible that the college will likely discover if a person is charged with a DUI related offense.
Steps An Attorney Will Take With An Underage Driver
When someone who is under the age of 18 has been charged with a DUI it is very concerning. An attorney will typically set up a meeting as soon as possible with the minor and their parents to get to the root of the behavior that led to the DUI charge. Many times a DUI involving a minor is a great opportunity to make sure that minor gets additional counseling, treatment for substance abuse or education regarding the effects of alcohol.
Frequently, when a minor is charged with a DUI it will be their first time before the court as they may not otherwise have a criminal record. They may be a strong student or an active member of the community doing good things in other respects. It is good to know the positive things that they are doing and then address the negative behavior and see what an attorney can do to get them back on the right path ahead of the court date.