Teenage Drunk Driving: The Consequences of an Underage DUI

Recent statistics suggest that part of why underage drinking has become such a problem in America is because of how commonplace it has become. A significant majority of teenagers report regular recreational drinking. Minors have commonly reported experimenting with alcohol at as young as the age of 12.

This problem becomes even more serious for underage drinkers who get behind the wheel.

There is little margin for error for drivers under the age of 21 in Maryland due to the state’s “Zero Tolerance” policy. Unlike the .08% BAC limit afforded to adults, minors are outright prohibited from driving while influenced by any traceable amount of alcohol. This means that normal measurement regulations do not pertain to people under the age of 21 in the state of Maryland.

This does not mean a minor will be charged with a DUI after gargling mouthwash, and is then pulled over on the way to school. A small margin of error is established in Section § 16-113 b of the Maryland Transportation Code, which states that the limit for underage drivers is a BAC above a .02%.

A driver could be 20 years and 364 days old and arrested and charged with DUI for a blood alcohol level that would technically be considered a legal level to drive with the next day.

Underage DUI’s have two sanctions just like ordinary DUI’s. There are the administrative consequences with Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) and criminal sanctions which are decided by the Maryland court system.

Unlike the criminal sanctions for an underage DUI, the consequences with the MVA are the same regardless of whether or not the underage offender is a minor.   For the first underage DUI offense, the underage driver’s license may be suspended for up to six months for violation of the alcohol restriction.   A second underage DUI can result in the individual’s license being suspended for up to one year or until they turn 21, whichever is longer.

The criminal sanctions for an underage DUI are decided by a Maryland Court or a Maryland Juvenile Court depending on whether or not the offender is a minor.

Maryland judges are not limited by a mandatory minimum sentence when deciding consequences for underage DUI offenders.  This means that judges can consider several mitigating and aggravating factors, such as whether it is a first time offense, blood alcohol levels, field sobriety test results or whether the police officer had probable cause to pull the car over.

In addition to performing several hours of community service and attending drug and alcohol treatment programs, minors can still face juvenile detention, fines, and probation.  Adults charged with underage DUI may face the same penalties as someone who is 21 including fines, jail time, and any other penalties ordered by the court.

An underage Maryland DUI can have serious implications on future job prospects as well as personal lives. For more information regarding an underage DUI charge, please contact McMullen & Drury, P.A.

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