Tampa Under 21 DUI Lawyers

Florida has a zero-tolerance policy on alcohol consumption under the legal age of 21. Despite its strict laws on the subject, it has been estimated that 9.5 percent of all the alcohol sold in Florida is consumed by under aged persons. Penalties for violating these laws once arrested and convicted are extremely severe but can be lessened or altogether avoided with the help of the right DUI attorney in Tampa. For persons of at least 21 years, a BAC level of over .08 percent means that they are legally intoxicated and can be charged with DUI. That threshold is severely shortened for persons under the age of 21. Because alcohol consumption for such persons in illegal, the legal limit for BAC is reduced to .02. This means that if any trace of alcohol is detected in someone who is not yet 21 and was driving after drinking, they can be charged with underage DUI. While the effects may vary depending on the weight and size of the person, even one drink can cause a BAC level of .02 and merit an arrest.

Penalties for Underage DUI

The penalties for being convicted of a DUI before 21 are both immediate and long-term. Fines, license suspension and regulations are more severe because of the nature of the crime. Not only is there a violation of driving standards, but the individual found guilty of underage DUI was also violating alcohol consumption laws while driving under the influence. For this reason, Florida law enforcement takes this offense very seriously. While penalties vary based on the actual BAC level recorded and the age of the individual, penalties for both adults and minors under the age of 21 are more serious than those drinking at a legal age.

General Penalties for DUI under 21

A person under 21 found with a BAC of more than 0.02% will have their driver's license suspended for at least 6 months for a first offense. For a second offense, the license will be suspended for at least one year. If the test revealed a BAC of 0.05 or more, the license will be suspended indefinitely until the individual has completed the court-ordered substance abuse course and passed the evaluation. For persons under the age of 19, the results of the substance abuse evaluation will be released to their parents or legal guardian. If the person fails the evaluation, their license will remain suspended until they pass.

In the event that an individual under the legal age is suspected of DUI refuses to take a breath or blood test to reveal BAC, their license will be automatically suspended for one year. If the individual had refused such a test once before, their license will be suspended for 18 months by default. Adults between the age of 18 and 21 who are charged with DUI are subject to being tried as adults for the offense. This means that they will face penalties at the level of an adult including harsh fines, jail time served, the installation of an ignition interlock device and other various sanctions. For those whose license has been suspended for a DUI related charge, driving with a suspended license can result in automatic conviction of a misdemeanor or felony which will be accompanied by additional penalties.

Juvenile Penalties for DUI under 21

DUI involving an individual under the age of 18 will be processed as a juvenile offense. In addition to the aforementioned penalties for underage DUI, minors convicted of DUI will be subject to admittance into an addictions receiving facility in the county where they were arrested. While they will not be tried as adults in most cases, minors convicted of DUI will face sentences including time served in juvenile hall, fines for court and traffic courses. A juvenile conviction for DUI can significantly affect an individual's chances for future scholarships, college admittance and employment. While DUI convictions typically result in some sort of increase in insurance premiums for adults over the legal age, minors convicted of DUI usually experience an increase of up to $8000 for the time the points are relevant.

Avoid Conviction of Underage DUI

The stakes are much higher for Floridians facing charges of underage DUI. Not only will the sentence be a burden at the time it is being carried out, but the conviction record will affect the individual's future in many negative ways. Because of this, it is important to take every measure to either lessen the charge or have it be dismissed altogether. However, given Florida's strict laws on the subject, achieving these results requires a special degree of skill on the part of a Tampa DUI attorney. Conviction is a very real possibility but it is not a necessary reality. If you have been charged with DUI and you are under the legal drinking age, you need to contact a Tampa DUI attorney as soon as possible.

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