Understanding the Different Penalties

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.

If you or a loved one has been charged with an underage DUI charge, contact our firm for a free consultation.

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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.

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