Just because a person is a minor doesn’t mean they can’t be charged with a DUI offense. In fact, a conviction for an underage DUI can actually have more severe consequences on a minor’s life than if they were an adult. At the Fairfax DUI defense law firm of Robinson Law, PLLC, we have more than 50 years of combined experience helping minors avoid the worst consequences of an underage DUI conviction. We understand that these cases present exceptionally high stakes and do everything possible to ensure we limit the impact that your arrest will have on your future.Virginia’s Underage DUI Laws
Under Code of Virginia § 18.2-266.1, it is against the law for anyone under 21 to operate a motor vehicle after consuming alcohol. Like many other states, Virginia has a “zero tolerance” law when it comes to underage drinking and driving. Thus, minors with a blood alcohol content of .02 or more can be charged with a Virginia underage DUI. However, if a minor’s BAC is over the legal blood alcohol limit for adults, which is .08, then they can be charged with a regular “adult” DUI under § 18.2-266.What Are the Punishments for a Minor Arrested for a DUI in Virginia?
There are two types of underage DUIs in Virginia, and each carries different punishments. If a minor is convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol with a BAC between .02 and .08 (§ 18.2-266.1), the offense is a Class 1 misdemeanor and brings with it the following punishments:
- A seven-day license suspension starting from the date of arrest;
- A one-year license revocation starting from the time of conviction; and
- A fine of at least $500 or a minimum of 50 hours of community service.
For a conviction under this section, the judge retains the discretion to issue a minor a restricted driver’s license if they complete an Alcohol Safety Action Program.
If a minor is convicted of a drug DUI or their blood alcohol content was .08 or more (§ 18.2-266), the offense is still a Class 1 misdemeanor; however, the penalties are much more severe:
- Up to a year in jail,
- A fine of at least $250, up to $2,500, and
- A one-year driver’s license suspension.
Notably, for a first-offense DUI, there is no mandatory jail sentence. So, the judge can decide to sentence a minor to probation and community service instead of incarceration.Collateral Consequences of an Underage DUI
While the criminal penalties of a DUI conviction are harsh, the collateral consequences of a conviction can have a long-term impact on a minor’s future. In fact, a conviction will make almost every aspect of a minor’s life more difficult. For example, minors may need to disclose a DUI conviction when filling out applications for college, trade school or employment. Thus, in some cases, a conviction may prevent a minor from attending school, drastically limiting their possible career paths.
If you are already enrolled in school, you may also face disciplinary proceedings and exclusion from certain school-sponsored sports and other extracurricular activities. An underage DUI conviction will also result in an increase in your car insurance rates.Are You Facing an Underage DUI in Virginia?
If you or your child was recently arrested for a Virginia DUI, reach out to the Fairfax DUI Defense attorneys at Robinson Law, PLLC, for immediate assistance. At Robinson Law, PLLC, our lawyers have more than 50 years of hands-on experience aggressively defending the futures of minors charged with DUI offenses. We understand what’s at stake in these cases and will do everything possible to ensure that your case ends in the best result possible. To learn more and to schedule a free consultation today, call (703) 844-3746. You can also connect with us through our online contact form. We proudly represent clients in Fairfax, Loudon, Stafford, and Suffolk counties, as well as throughout Northern Virginia.