Drivers under 21 are subject to Zero Tolerance for DUI charges

On Behalf of | May 20, 2024 | Criminal Defense |

Although alcohol use in Virginia is only legal for people 21 and older, it is not uncommon for younger people to drink. Whether it is at a party, an event or by gaining access to a bar, it is important to understand how the law views this issue.

To address underage drinking, Virginia has a “Zero Tolerance” policy. This addresses the purchasing, possession and consumption of alcoholic beverages. The laws differ for people under 21 regarding how much alcohol can be in their system before facing charges for driving under the influence. Knowing the different rules is a key part of crafting an effective defense to avoid the worst possible consequences.

Know the details of Zero Tolerance

Simply being stopped by law enforcement after consuming alcohol will lead to an administrative license suspension. Those over 21 who are tested to determine how much alcohol in their system will be charged with DUI if they register a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08%. For people under 21, it is 0.02% and above.

Once the driver is convicted, their driving privileges will be suspended for one year from that date. There is a fine of at least $500 or they will be ordered to perform 50 hours of community service. Drivers under 21 will be subject to the same penalties as people 21 and over if they register 0.08%. For a first offense, that would be a $250 fine and a driver’s license suspension for one year.

There are other behaviors that often accompany underage DUI. Younger people could have passengers in the vehicle with them. If they are 17 and under, they are categorized as juveniles. This will add to the list of charges.

Possession, purchase or consumption of alcohol will warrant a fine of $500 to $2,500, up to a year in jail and a driver’s license suspension of six months to a year. Possession of alcohol at a public school will warrant a fine of $1,000 and as much as six months in jail. If the person used false identification to make the purchase, they could be fined $500, need to perform 50 hours of community service, be jailed for up to one year and their driver’s license might be suspended.

A young person’s future can be damaged by a DUI charge

A DUI charge is problematic for those of any age, but it can severely hinder a younger person’s life and future. Losing driving privileges, fines and jail time are serious enough, but it can extend to a negative perception in the community, problems in school and long-term obstacles. There are effective strategies to challenge a DUI charge and assessing options for a workable solution is key.