Consequences of an Underage DUI

Under Sec. 316.193 of the Florida Statutes, a person 21 and older, can be charged with driving under the influence (DUI) under the following circumstances: 1) if the individual’s normal faculties are impaired by drugs or alcohol, or 2) if the driver’s blood alcohol level is .08% or higher.

The above means that under Florida law, a driver can be arrested for DUI if their driving ability is impaired while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a chemical substance regardless of BAC, but it also means that if a driver has a BAL of .08%, they are automatically violating Florida’s DUI law.

These rules apply to drivers age 21 and over, for underage drinkers, the laws are even stricter. For drivers below the age of 21, it’s unlawful to drive with a BAL of .02% or above. That means that an underage drinker can be arrested for DUI after having just one bottle of beer, one glass of wine, or one shot of liquor.

Administrative Suspensions for Young Drivers

Under Sec. 322.2616 of the Florida Statutes, if a police officer has probable cause to believe that a driver under the age of 21 was driving or under physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, the officer can lawfully detain the young driver and request them to submit to a chemical test to determine their BAL.

If the chemical test determines that the young driver had .02% or more alcohol in their system, the individual’s driver’s license will be automatically suspended for six months. If the driver refused to submit to a breath test, their driver’s license will be automatically suspended for one year.

The above license suspensions are effective immediately. However, if the young driver’s BAL registered at .05% or higher, their driver’s license will remain suspended until they submit to a substance abuse evaluation and complete a substance abuse course.

Depending on the young driver’s BAL and aggravating factors, such as a history of DUIs, or injuring someone else while driving under the influence, he or she may face additional penalties, including:

  • Jail may be required
  • As much as $2,000 in fines
  • And more

Long-Term Effects of an Underage DUI

For adults over 21, a DUI typically means fines, AA meetings, DUI School, and the possibility of jail. For the young driver, an underage DUI can mean so much more. For instance, if a young driver is found guilty of DUI, their insurance premiums will shoot through the roof. Can you, or your parents afford skyrocketing insurance premiums?

If you are in high school and applying to colleges, a DUI can certainly affect your educational opportunities. Some colleges will not give a scholarship to applicants with criminal records and many college sport teams will not allow a player to be on their team with a criminal record whatsoever.

If you’re applying for a much-needed college scholarship, and it’s between you and another applicant with a spotless record, a DUI can be a deal breaker. What’s more, a DUI can impact individuals seeking certain professional licenses, such as those seeking to be in nursing, law, and other professional occupations.

Are you planning on a career in the U.S. Armed Forces? If so, a DUI conviction may affect your ability to join the military. If you are allowed to join the Armed Forces, the DUI may affect your opportunities for advancement and it can keep you from becoming a respected officer. You will want to ask your recruiter about this because it can be an issue, even years from now.

Hope to have a security clearance one day? Hope to join law enforcement or the FBI? Know that a DUI is a black mark on your criminal record, and can affect both educational and career opportunities for years to come.

If you, or your teenage son or daughter is facing underage DUI charges, your best line of defense is to contact the Tampa DUI defense attorneys at Thomas & Paulk. P.A. As former prosecutors, we have what it takes to aggressively fight underage DUI cases – call now!