You’re at a college party and you get a little too tipsy. You decide to get into a car to drive home, which was a regrettable decision because before you even turn off the street of the party, you’re being pulled over. While many people sorely regret getting into a car when they are drunk, as an underage individual you could be facing some serious consequences. As a DUI attorney in a college town, we’re unfortunately very experienced in this area. We’ve dealt with DUIs and alcohol possession with underage individuals, as well as people who just made that mistake to get into a car after having a few too many. If you’ve experienced a DUI no matter what age you may be, then don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Roselle & Breitigam, P.C. for some legal advice.
WHY IS DRINKING UNDERAGE A CRIME?
The first question a lot of people ask us why it’s a crime to drink while under 21. The reason why it’s a crime is that alcohol consumption should be regulated. A person should be ready emotionally to be able to handle the consumption of alcohol, as well as be able to control the behavior that goes along with drinking too much. Alcohol can make you feel an array of emotions, from happy to depressed and anything in between. It helps people feel comfortable in uncomfortable situations and helps others feel more excited when they are usually calm. When alcohol is thrown into the mix, people will lose their inhibitions and will engage in activities they aren’t likely to do when they are sober. The idea of creating a legal drinking age is to ensure that the person drinking will be responsible enough to handle their behavior.
DRINKING AND POSSESSING ALCOHOL WHILE YOU’RE UNDERAGE
When there is underage drinking, there are two situations where you can find yourself in hot water. There’s possessing alcohol when you’re underage and there are drinking and driving, which we’ll get to below. First, the possession of alcohol means that alcohol is found in your body, upon you, or in your immediate control. For example, if you’re walking down the street and you are carrying alcohol in your bag, then that’s considered possession. If you’re under 21, then a police officer can ask for you to take a breathalyzer test to figure out if you’ve consumed alcohol. If you refuse to take a breathalyzer test, then you can face a suspended license from anywhere between 12 months to 36 months. Alcohol possession can also happen if you’re driving and are pulled over. When you are charged with possession of alcohol, you can be facing other charges, as well such as endangerment. Possession of alcohol by a minor is considered to be a criminal act and the sentencing for an offender is very detrimental, especially when it comes to the age of the person.
DRINKING AND DRIVING WHILE YOU’RE UNDERAGE
When it comes to drinking and driving, you have to have a blood alcohol concentration level of about .02 percent or higher to be charged with a DUI. This is less than a drink for most people. The BAC depends on your body weight, height, gender, and the amount you drink. For example, one woman could drink a beer and feel drunk whereas a man could drink the same thing and feel fine. The driver will have to take a chemical test to determine the amount and they can be cited for driving under the influence. A minor driving under the influence can also face charges besides a DUI. They can face charges such as moving and vehicle maintenance violations, possession of false identification, child endangerment, soliciting alcohol, minors in possession, as well as distributing alcohol to other minors if there are other drunk people in the car. For a driver who is underage, the actions taken against them are very severe and can result in years of a suspended license.
THE CONSEQUENCES YOU CAN FACE FOR UNDERAGE DRINKING
When it comes to underage drinking and possessing alcohol, you could be facing a few different convictions. The convictions you can get when you’re arrested for underage possession of alcohol, driving, and drinking range from paying a fine to having your license suspended. The first conviction you can get is to pay a fine of no more than $250 and a suspended driver’s license for three months. The second conviction you’ll need to pay about $500 and your license will be suspended for six months. The third conviction is a Class Two Misdemeanor, where you’ll pay a fine of around $1000, and you can face a jail sentence of about a year, as well as a suspended license. The judge can require you to perform community service, an alcohol assessment, alcohol education, and pay a penalty surcharge.
If you’ve sustained a DUI, then contact a DUI attorney at our law firm. We know that the situation is a scary one, but with our guidance, we’ll help you get the best outcome for your situation.