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Tampa Underage DUI Defense Lawyers

Experienced DUI Defense Attorneys

Florida takes the safety of those on the road seriously, whether they are pedestrians, commercial drivers, cyclists, bus drivers, or passenger vehicle drivers. The state puts numerous laws in place to protect people, especially against drunk drivers. Regardless of whether you are 18 or 80, the law enforces strict penalties for drivers under the influence. Even as an underage or juvenile driver, you could face very serious repercussions.

Florida's Zero Tolerance Laws for Underage Drinking

Florida has a zero-tolerance policy on alcohol consumption under the age of 21. Despite its strict laws, 9.5 percent of all the alcohol sold in Florida is consumed by underage individuals. The consequences of an underage drinking conviction may vary depending on the particular circumstances, but maximum penalties may include up to 60 days in jail or a fine of up to $500.

Common penalties for underage drinking in Florida include:

  • Underage Possession of Alcohol
    Up to 60 days in jail, $500 fine & license suspension
  • Misrepresentation of Age to Purchase Alcoholic Beverages
    Revocation of driving privileges, $500 fine & 60 days in jail
  • Possession of Stolen / Fake Form of Identification
    Up to 5 years in jail, $5,000 fine & permanent license revocation

If anyone under the age of 21 was drinking and driving, they can be charged with a DUI—even if they only had a single drink. The legal limit for BAC is reduced to 0.02% for underage drivers. While the effects may vary depending on the weight and size, even one drink can cause a BAC level of 0.02.

The stakes are much higher for Floridians facing charges of underage DUI. Not only will the sentence be a burden at the time, but the conviction record will affect the individual's future in many negative ways. It is important to take every measure to either lessen the charge or have it dismissed.

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.

Understanding the Different Penalties

Penalties for Underage DUI

Fines, license suspension, and regulations are more severe because of the nature of the crime. While penalties vary based on the 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 at a legal age.

The following suspension penalties may be enforced:

  • First underage DUI offense: 6 months
  • First breath test refusal: 1 year
  • Second or subsequent underage DUI offense: 1 year
  • Second or subsequent refusal: 18 months
  • A fine of $500 to $1,000
  • 50 hours of community service
  • Vehicle impoundment for up to 10 days
  • Driver’s license revocation for 180 days to 1 year

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 their first offense. For a second conviction, the license will be suspended for at least 1 year. If the DUI 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. If they refuses to take a breath or blood test to reveal BAC, their license will be suspended for a year. 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 conviction of a misdemeanor or felony DUI which will be accompanied by additional penalties.

The penalties for being convicted of a DUI before 21 are both immediate and long-term.

Juvenile Penalties for DUI Under 18

A DUI committed by a minor will be processed as a juvenile offense. In addition to DUI penalties, minors convicted of DUI will be subject to admittance into 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, court fines, 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 $8,000 for the time the points are relevant.

Long-Term Effects of an Underage DUI

If you are in high school and applying to colleges, a DUI will affect your educational opportunities. Some colleges will not give a scholarship to applicants with criminal records, and many college sports teams will not allow people with criminal records on their team. 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. A DUI can also affect individuals seeking certain professional licenses for 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 can join the Armed Forces, the DUI may affect your opportunities for advancement. 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 record and can affect both educational and career opportunities.

If you or a child was charged with underage DUI, either as an adult or as a minor, turn to experienced Tampa DUI lawyers. Thomas & Paulk, P.A. has successfully handled more than 7,000 cases, so speak with us as soon as possible to learn your legal options.

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DUI Defense in Florida

At Thomas & Paulk, one of our primary focuses is on the defense of DUI charges. In fact, we are recognized throughout the Tampa area as one of the premier DUI defense law firms. Our team is well-versed in this area of the law and has a wide-expanse of experience in helping our clients fight against such charges.

It doesn’t matter if this is your first offense or your third, you can count on our firm to have the experience to protect your legal rights. Often, our defense starts with recounting with you how the police officer came to stop you in the first place and how he or she came to believe you may be under the influence of alcohol. If the stop was illegal, or the tests were improperly administered, we may be able to argue for the dismissal of that evidence in court, helping your chances of a dropped charge.

The important thing is that you act quickly. Criminal cases involving charges of drinking and driving are serious and they can move fast. You cannot afford to wait or ignore your charges. You need a legal professional on your side who truly understands what you're facing so that they can offer you experience counsel and sound advice. To learn more about how a lawyer like this can assist with your case, we encourage you to contact us as soon as possible. Call our Tampa DUI defense attorneys at Thomas & Paulk today to schedule an initial consultation. This is a completely free, confidential appointment for you to tell us your side of the story.

  • If you're arrested for DUI, you only have 10 days to schedule a DMV hearing where you can fight to save your license.
  • A blood alcohol reading of 0.15% or more can warrant an aggravated DUI charge with harsher penalties.
  • Each year, Hillsborough County issues around 4,000 DUI citations. Out of these, more than 3,000 are found guilty.
  • Per Florida's zero-tolerance policy, anyone under the age of 21 who tests positive for any measurable blood alcohol can be charged with DUI.