If you're pulled over for a DUI and you're under 21, you may not be thinking about the potential legal consequences. You might be thinking about how much your parents will ream you, how much your friends will ridicule you, and how your social life may never be the same.
Well as Cher memorably said in "Moonstruck," snap out of it! (Too young for that reference? Don't worry about it.)
Worry instead about these five potential legal consequences of an underage DUI:
1. Juvenile Detention, Fines, and Jail.
The consequences of an underage DUI depends in part on whether you're under 18 or over 18 (but under 21).
If you are under 18 and get arrested for a DUI, then you will likely be tried as a juvenile. Most states have zero-tolerance laws for underage DUIs, so it's very likely that you will be found responsible for drunken driving. Your sentence may include time in a juvenile detention center in addition to fines. These fines are no joke either; a first-time underage DUI may average around $22,492 in fines and costs.
If you're over 18 (but under 21) or your case is transferred to adult criminal court, then you may actually spend time in jail.
2. Driver's License Suspension or Revocation.
In every U.S. state, being found responsible for drunken driving means getting your driver's license suspended. In some states it may be as short as a month or as long as a year for a first-time offense. And good luck getting your license back if you get caught driving on a suspended license, like the 17-year-old daughter of a "Real Housewife" Bella Hadid.
3. Community Service and/or Probation.
For many first-time underage DUI offenders, the consequences of drunken driving will include probation and community service. Often courts will have DUI diversion programs which allow DUI defendants to plea to a lesser charge, or to get their charges dismissed, if certain conditions are met. But you may still end up picking up trash off the side of the highway in a bright orange vest.
4. The Installation of an Ignition Interlock Device.
Many states mandate ignition interlock devices for repeat or serious drunken driving offenses, and even teens may be saddled with them too. Your prom date may not appreciate you blowing into your car's IID to make it start. And you probably won't appreciate how expensive it is to get the system installed.
5. A Criminal Record.
An underage DUI may give you a head start on other minors ... on your criminal record. You may be able to expunge a juvenile DUI record, but it may still show up on job or rental applications.
Talk to an experienced DUI attorney if you're worried about any of these underage consequences of a DUI conviction.
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