The State of Florida has strict laws that carry heavy consequences for minors caught driving under the influence
Any time someone is accused of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol in the State of Florida, it is handled as a very serious offense because of the immediate danger such an act puts on the person who was driving, any passengers, and everyone else who is out on the road. But when a driver who is under the legal drinking age of 21 is being charged with driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they may face much more serious consequences than they would for other charges brought against them as a minor. In Florida, a driver who is under the age of 21 and is accused of driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol could still be convicted of a standard DUI and face the same penalties that a driver over the age of 21 would face such as suspension of their driver’s license, community service, fines and fees, and even jail time. In fact, a minor could face a completely separate charge simply for being in possession of drugs or alcohol under Florida’s minor in possession law.
Florida’s Statute For Underage Drunk Driving – 322.2616
Florida has adopted a zero-tolerance approach when it comes to handling underage drinking and driving. Because it is illegal for a person under the age of 21 to drink any alcoholic beverage, Florida’s underage DUI statutes are designed to reflect this. While a driver who is 21 years old or older will typically face a DUI charge only when their BAC level is above the national legal limit of 0.08%, a driver who is under the age of 21 can face a DUI charge with a BAC level of just 0.02% or higher. Additionally, persons under the age of 21 may still face a DUI charge if they refuse to submit to a BAC test and their normal faculties are determined to be impaired by the arresting officer.
What penalties does a minor face for driving under the influence in Florida?
The penalties a minor convicted of driving under the influence will face vary depending on the specific circumstances surrounding their case. A minor driver under the age of 21 who has a first time DUI conviction with a BAC level of 0.08% (the legal limit for adults) or higher could face jail time that is determined by the judge, and a minor convicted of a second offense of a DUI could face jail time between 10 days and a year. Everyone convicted of a DUI in Florida will face court fees and fines and be subject to a license suspension and drug abuse prevention programs. A first offense has a license suspension of at least 6 months and a fine between $1,000 and $2,000, while a second offense has a license suspension of 1 year and up to a $4,000 fine. Any person under the age of 21 who is suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol and refuses to submit to a BAC test will automatically face a license suspension of 1 year for a first offense and a license suspension for 18 months for any subsequent offenses and will still face the other penalties that come with being convicted of a DUI offense.
Additionally, underage drivers convicted of driving under the influence will often face unique penalties such as penalties imposed by the college they are enrolled in, loss of financial aid, loss of automobile insurance coverage, and restrict your ability to join the military or obtain certain professional licenses.
Florida’s Minor In Possession Laws – 562.111
There is often an intense amount of peer pressure exerted on our youth to join their friends in drinking to relax and have fun. But if a minor succumbs to this pressure in the State of Florida, they could potentially face serious criminal consequences just for being in possession of alcohol under Florida’s “minor in possession” law. This law makes it illegal for any person under the age of 21 to be in possession of alcoholic beverages, with limited exceptions, and a minor caught possessing alcohol will face a second-degree misdemeanor charge for their first offense and a first-degree misdemeanor charge for a subsequent offense. This law prohibits anyone under the age of 21 to be in possession of any alcoholic beverage including liquor, beer, wine, wine coolers, and mixed drinks, in any way. The minor does not have to be caught with the drink in their hand in order to be charged with a minor in possession offense, they need only to be accused of having the alcoholic beverage within their reach or under their control.
Aggressive criminal law defense attorney fights to protect your rights
If you are a minor accused of underage driving under the influence, or the parent of a minor being accused, you need the compassionate and aggressive criminal defense lawyer, Michael C. McGinn, P.A. Contact us today for your FREE initial consultation. Mr. McGinn has a wealth of experience handling many Florida criminal defense cases and is prepared to protect and maximize your legal rights and interests. Call us at 813-374-0353. Mr. McGinn is licensed in all Florida courts; he frequently handles criminal law cases in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Manatee, Pasco, and Polk Counties, and has occasionally handled cases outside of the immediate Tampa Bay Area as well.