No parent wants to receive a phone call that their child is in jail and has been charged with a serious crime. Unfortunately, most teenagers will find themselves in a situation where they have consumed alcohol and made the poor decision to drive. Consuming alcohol under the age of 21 is illegal in Pennsylvania. To deter this from happening, underage DUI laws are stricter and harsher than the penalties for adults in the same situation. If you find yourself in the unfortunate position of dealing with an underage DUI, it is critical you take the situation seriously and seek counsel from a criminal defense attorney that will defend these charges vigorously.
Cracking Down on Underage DUI
In 2003 under Act 24, the Pennsylvania legislature lowered the legal drinking limit of alcohol for adults from .10 percent Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) to .08 percent. The BAC limit for minors was reduced even further to .02 percent. This legislation clearly stated that a minor may not drive, operate, or be in physical control of a vehicle if their BAC level is .02 percent or higher within two hours of the minor driving, operating, or controlling a vehicle. The lower BAC levels for underage drivers may put them in the highest tier in the state’s grading system. This means an underage DUI conviction comes with stricter punishment under the law. Understanding the implications of Act 24 is essential when dealing with underage DUI.
What are the Possible Outcomes of an Underage DUI Conviction
Under the tiers established by Pennsylvania law, a driver under the age of 21 who is convicted of DUI faces up to six months in jail, fines up to $5,000, and a suspended license for at least one year. Drivers who are at least 18 at the time of offense could receive mandatory jail sentences if found guilty. The punishments are more severe for underage drivers compared to adult drivers. Further, if the underage driver has previous DUI convictions, the penalties are even more severe. A minor with one prior conviction may receive a jail sentence of a minimum of 30 days and this penalty increases to 90 days to five years in prison for an underage DUI driver with two prior convictions. These harsh penalties require you to hire a lawyer who will defend your child’s case in court.
Contact an Experienced Underage DUI Attorney Today
These zero tolerance laws were established to deter minors from driving under the influence. The penalties are stricter for underage drivers to combat underage drinking and driving. A minor may even lose their right to drive if they simply possess or transport alcohol with no motor vehicle involved. A youthful mistake can cause future consequences like a criminal record, which can affect the minor’s employment, housing, and education choices. With this high stake at risk, contacting a Philadelphia DUI lawyer from van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim. Our experienced, qualified lawyers have served and successfully fought for our clients in the Philadelphia area.