Can an Underage Driver Be Arrested and Charged with DUI?

An underage driver could be a hazard if driving while drunk. Nobody wants to think about their underage son or daughter drinking alcohol. But if you’re being honest with yourself, you know teenagers like to experiment. All you can do is hope that they make smart decisions along the way. However, if your child happens to get into trouble with a DUI, the best thing you can do is support them. Even if you’re upset with them, you will need to protect them. The consequences of a DUI conviction will follow your teen for the rest of their life. Rather than risk this happening, you should hire an experienced Orangeburg criminal defense attorney.

Here, we will discuss the various penalties underage drinkers face if convicted of DUI in South Carolina. We’ll also explain how a seasoned DUI lawyer in South Carolina can help.

It’s Against the Law to Drink Alcohol Before You’re 21

If you live in the U.S., then you know the legal drinking age is 21. Not only is it illegal to drink alcohol if you’re underage, but it’s also against the law to try to buy alcohol. This includes asking an older person to buy alcohol for you. However, teens find a way to get their hands on beer, wine, and liquor with ease today. If they don’t have a fake ID, they just find a friend who does. Or they have a friend whose parents have no problem supplying them with alcohol.

The problem with this, aside from the fact that it’s illegal, is that it encourages young people to drink and drive. Young people are inexperienced drivers. The last thing they need is to be drinking alcohol (or smoking weed) and then getting behind the wheel. When they do this, there is no end to the damage they can cause to themselves and other, innocent people.

You Can Be Charged with DUI and Drinking While Underage

A lot of people, including a lot of parents, assume that cops don’t arrest teenagers for DUI. They just figure the cops bring them home to their parents in a squad car. Of, if the young person goes to college, they assume they bring them to their dorm. The truth is that the cops are just as quick to arrest an underage person for DUI as a legal adult. In fact, since young people are already so dangerous when they’re behind the wheel, the cops are even more vigorous when it comes to DUI.

The drinking and driving statutes in South Carolina are very strict. Nowhere in the criminal code does it state that you can only be arrested and charged with DUI if you’re of legal drinking age. Admittedly, the penalties for underage drinkers do appear a lot lighter than they are for adult drivers. However, that doesn’t mean a conviction for DUI isn’t serious. It will follow a young person around for more than a decade. It’s more important than ever that you hire a vigilant DUI lawyer in South Carolina to help your teenage child.

You’ll Face Fines, Possible Jail Time, and a Suspension of Your Driver’s License

Even if an underage driver is arrested for their first DUI offense, they’ll still be facing pretty serious consequences. For one thing, they’ll be ordered to pay close to a thousand dollars in fees, fines, and surcharges. And, if it’s their second or third offense, the total fines can be as high as $13,000. Since most teenagers don’t have a full-time job, you can imagine who will end up paying this fine!

In addition to fines and surcharges, you can bet that the underage driver will have a hard time finding an insurance company willing to cover them. When someone shows that they’re prone to drinking and driving at such a young age, it doesn’t bode well for them. Not only will they be facing surcharges, but they’ll also be paying two or threes as much as other people when it comes to their insurance premiums.

In addition to these other penalties, underage drivers convicted of DUI will have their driver’s license suspended. Depending on whether it’s their first offense, they can lose their license for up to a year. This can be problematic, especially if they are still driving with a provisional license.

Finally, if their blood alcohol concentration was high enough, the underage driver could be facing possible jail time.

It Depends on How High Your Blood Alcohol Concentration Was at the Time of Your Arrest

The legal limit for DUI is 0.08. Almost everybody knows this, including your teenagers. When it comes to underage drinkers, however, the legal limit is 0.02. All it takes to reach this blood alcohol concentration is beer or glass of wine. Add a shot in there, and their BAC will be close to the normal legal limit.

If your teen’s BAC is on the higher end, the penalties they’ll face will be higher. For example, if they blow a .15 or higher, they may have to serve at least a few days in jail. In addition, it will be harder to get the charges against them dismissed or reduced. The reason for this is rather obvious. Law enforcement wants to make sure that underage drivers don’t tempt fate by drinking any alcohol before they get behind the wheel. However, this only works if young people are aware of the consequences of drinking and driving.

You Should Contact an Orangeburg Criminal Defense Attorney As Soon as Possible After Your Arrest

If your teenage son or daughter has recently been charged with DUI, there’s a lot at stake. Not only will they be facing the criminal penalties that come with a DUI, but the charges will stay on their permanent record. This could impact whether they go to college. It can also limit their career choices, rather than let this happen, you should hire an experienced Orangeburg criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney will work hard to get the charges dismissed. If that isn’t an option, they’ll try to negotiate a favorable plea.

With so much at stake, you don’t want to try to handle this on your own. The criminal justice system can be scary and intimidating. With a DUI lawyer in South Carolina by your side, your family will have the best possible chance of getting through the process as painlessly as possible. Call our office today and set up a date and time to come in and meet with one of our attorneys.