Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI) is always a serious offense. The penalties can be even harsher when the driver is under the legal drinking age.
If you or your child are facing underage DUI charges, you need legal representation from an attorney. A Bridgeport underage DUI lawyer at Ruane Attorneys could mount an effective defense to achieve a positive case result.
Zero Tolerance for Underage Drinking and Driving
The legal drinking age in Connecticut is 21, so underage DUI is two crimes: driving while under the influence of alcohol and drinking while underage. Connecticut General Statutes §14-227g imposes harsh penalties for underage drinking and driving.
Anyone under 21 with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .02 or higher could be convicted of driving while intoxicated. The law applies to someone operating a vehicle in a parking lot, driveway, or on the driver’s property, as well as on a public road or highway.
Drivers under 18 face additional consequences if caught operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The police will seize and hold the minor’s driver’s license for 48 hours. After 48 hours, the minor’s parent or legal guardian must retrieve the license in person at the police station.
Impact on an Underage Driver’s License
Two separate actions affect the driver’s license of someone accused of DUI. The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) imposes a suspension when it receives notice that a driver was arrested on suspicion of DUI or refused a chemical test. A Superior Court judge also might impose a driver’s license suspension as part of a sentence after a DUI conviction.
The DMV automatically suspends an underage driver’s license if they refuse a chemical test or take it and their BAC is .02 or higher. The suspension lasts for 45 days. License reinstatement requires the driver to install an ignition interlock device (IIG) for at least one year.
The impacts on a driver’s license after a second or subsequent underage DUI are even harsher. The license will be suspended for 45 days or until the driver turns 21, whichever is longer. The driver must also install an IIG for three years. During the first year of using the IIG, the driver can drive only to work, school, drug or alcohol treatment, or appointments with their probation officer.
An underage driver could work with our Bridgeport attorneys to appeal the administrative license suspension. We could also help a driver obtain a special permit to drive to work, school, drug or alcohol treatment, and probation appointments while their license is suspended. Seeking a special permit is essential if the driver must use a car for their daily activities, as driving on a suspended license is a crime with mandatory jail time.
Suspension After Conviction
Driver’s license suspension is one of the penalties a judge could impose after an underage DUI conviction. The criminal suspension is in addition to the suspension DMV sets automatically.
A judge could impose a one-year suspension for a first offender and a two-year suspension after a second offense. Permanent license revocation is the penalty for a third DUI conviction, although an offender could apply for reinstatement after two years. If a driver does not already have a special permit to drive to specific locations with a suspended license, they could obtain one to drive to work, school, and certain appointments after the judge imposes a license suspension.
Penalties for Underage DUI Include Incarceration
Although the administrative penalties for DUI differ depending on the driver’s age, the criminal penalties do not. For a first offense, the penalty is six months in jail. Although a judge could suspend most of the sentence, an offender must serve at least 48 consecutive hours. The law offers an alternative: the court could impose a six-month jail sentence and suspend it entirely. However, the offender must complete one year of probation and perform at least 100 hours of community service as a condition of probation, in addition to other requirements. The judge also must impose a fine between $500 and $1000.
There is no option to avoid jail time for a second or subsequent offense, which are felony charges. The sentence for a second offender is two years in prison, and they must serve at least 120 consecutive days. For third and subsequent offenses, the prison sentence could be up to three years, and the offender must serve at least one year. When the stakes are this high, underage drivers facing DUI charges must work with a Bridgeport attorney to protect their futures.
Trust a Bridgeport Attorney to Handle an Underage DUI
A DUI charge could have significant legal, financial, and social consequences for a young person. Although the potential repercussions are severe, a Bridgeport underage DUI lawyer can work to resolve the charge while minimizing the impact on your life.
If you or your child faces an accusation of underage DUI, get legal help immediately. Contact Ruane Attorneys today.