Teens and DUIs: What Are the Consequences When Teens Drive Drunk?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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So how much alcohol can the average teenager drink before he or she is considered unlawfully driving under the influence? Two drinks? Three? Try less than one alcoholic drink! While a standard DUI is given when your blood alcohol content is 0.08% or over, there are special laws for minors under the age of twenty-one. These laws are called zero-tolerance laws, and every state has them. This means that if you have anything to drink before you get behind the wheel, your license will automatically be suspended, and you will be charged with an underage DUI.

Think that law enforcement will go easy on you, because you’re a minor? Think again! Criminal penalties are harsher for minors who are charged with a DUI, than they are for adults. This means that a first time offender can receive:

  • jail time, years of probation,
  • years in license suspension,
  • months of DUI education classes, and
  • up to thousands of dollars in fines.

These penalties cannot be avoided by refusing the breathalyzer, either. Because of your states “implied consent” laws, refusal to take a blood alcohol test is often seen as an admission of guilt, and you can face an even longer license suspension than you would for the DUI alone. Remember that the police can always use other evidence to show that you were drinking too – like your erratic driving, or that smell on your breath.

A DUI will stay on your record into your adulthood, and because college and workplace applications require that you inform them of any criminal offenses, you may face roadblocks to your educational path, as well as your career.

Parents! If you think you are helping your teenager by providing a safe place for them to drink in your home, think again! If a drunk driving accident happens after a party at your home, you can be held criminally and civilly responsible for the consequences of this accident.

If you are under the age of 21, you should never step behind the wheel of a vehicle after drinking. If you have been charged with an underage DUI, you should contact an experienced DUI attorney for assistance.

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