What Underage Drivers Need To Know About DUIs

To keep underage drinking and driving at a minimum, most every state has a zero-tolerance law that apply to drivers under the age of 21. Underage DUIs have many consequences that can impact a young person's life for years to come. Here is what you need to know:

What Is a Zero Tolerance Offense?

Drivers who are under age 21 must not drink any amount of alcohol and drive a vehicle. The smallest amount of alcohol, even lower than the legal allowable blood alcohol content, is illegal for drivers who are underage. Each state will have a limit, some higher than others.

What Are the Penalties for an Underage DUI?

The penalties for an underage DUI will vary by state. In general, underage DUIs come with fines, community service, classes on substance abuse, and possibly time in jail. The driver may also have to install an ignition interlock device in their car. The penalties are often less than a standard DUI but can still be severe.

What About School and Professional Penalties?

In addition to the legal penalties, there are additional penalties that the driver can have. For example, if the driver wants to go to college, apply for scholarships, or receive financial aid for school, an underage DUI charge can impact the university's decision. Many colleges will ask the student if they have ever been convicted of a crime. The driver may not be disqualified for acceptance in college or a scholarship, but it may be more difficult to be considered with this mark on their record.

Each state will have specific rules when it comes to state-sponsored financial aid. The driver will need to check in their state to find out if an underage DUI can impact eligibility. Typically, a DUI will not impact federal financial aid.

If the driver is a current college student, they need to check if their school has behavioral guidelines that include a DUI. Any type of criminal activity could result in a suspension or even an expulsion. If the DUI is a first-time offense, the school may not take extreme action and only give a formal warning.

As the student goes to get a career, they may be subject to a background check. An underage DUI can stay on their record. This can show up on a criminal background check and may result in difficulties obtaining a career.

If you are an underage driver who has received a DUI or you are the parent of an underage driver who received a DUI, speak to a DUI attorney for more info.