In Florida, drivers under the age of 21 are held to a standard that is more strict than that of an adult for purposes of driving under the influence (DUI). Florida’s zero-tolerance policy means that an underage driver with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of .02 percent can be cited for a DUI. If your child is facing an underage DUI charge, you and your child can defend against the allegations with the assistance of a St. Petersburg DUI attorney. At Blake & Dorsten, P.A., we understand that an underage DUI may be the first contact that a young driver has with the Florida judicial system. Our knowledgeable lawyers can provide guidance throughout the process and address any concerns you may have about an underage DUI.Underage DUI in Florida
All drivers in Florida are prohibited from operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. Any person driving with a BAC level at or above the legal limit may face serious consequences. If a law enforcement officer has probable cause to believe that a driver is under the influence of alcohol, the officer may ask them to submit to a test to determine their BAC level. For most people, a BAC level of .08 percent or higher while driving constitutes a per se DUI offense. However, a lower BAC threshold is applied to underage drivers, who are not legally allowed to consume alcohol at all.
In Florida, drivers younger than 21 years may be cited for an underage DUI if their BAC level is .02 percent or higher. An underage driver will also be subject to consequences for refusing a lawfully requested breath test. If an underage driver has a BAC level of .08 percent or higher, they may be charged for a criminal DUI offense. Unlike an underage DUI citation, which is essentially an administrative process, a DUI charge is a criminal proceeding. Fortunately, there may be defenses to an underage DUI depending on the circumstances of the case. An underage DUI, DUI refusal, and a DUI charge may be contested with the assistance of a defense attorney.Underage DUI Penalties
An underage DUI carries an administrative license suspension and becomes part of your driving record. When an underage DUI is cited, the law enforcement officer will confiscate your license and issue a 10-day temporary driving permit, if eligible, with a notice of suspension. A first-time underage DUI for a BAC level of .02 percent or higher may result in a license suspension for six months. Any additional violations are subject to a one-year license suspension. An under-21 driver who refuses a breath test will also face a one-year license suspension, and subsequent refusals are punishable by an eighteen-month suspension. In addition to the applicable suspension period, an underage driver with a BAC level of .05 or higher must complete a substance abuse course at their expense before their license may be reinstated.
An underage driver who is charged with a DUI for having a BAC level of .08 percent or higher is subject to the same criminal law procedures as an adult driver. A first-time DUI conviction may carry a sentence of up to six months in jail, probation, a fine, and/or community service hours. A DUI conviction will also result in a license suspension of at least six months. Many underage drivers may be eligible for a hardship license during their DUI suspension period.Retain an Attorney in the St. Petersburg Area
Defending against an underage DUI may help to avoid harsh consequences and maintain a clear driving record. At Blake & Dorsten, P.A., our lawyers can assist clients who have been accused of DUI offenses, drug crimes, theft, and other criminal charges. We advise people located throughout Pinellas County, particularly Clearwater, Tampa Bay, and St. Petersburg. Request a free consultation by calling 727-286-6141 or contacting Blake & Dorsten online.