An underage driver’s future opportunities should not be ruined because he or she made a mistake. Underage drinking can lead to minor drinking too much and then driving because of many factors, including peer pressure. A conviction for drunk driving and its related penalties and consequences are not assured. There may be strong defenses that can be raised by an experienced attorney. If your child or you face an underage DUI charge, you should consult a criminal defense lawyer at Michigan Defense Law. Our Michigan underage DUI attorneys have strong reputations for DUI defense, and we may be able to represent your child or you.
To schedule a consultation with our underage DUI lawyers, contact us at (248) 451-2200.
It is illegal for you to consume any alcohol in Michigan if you are under age 21. You can be arrested for operating while intoxicated if you are under age 21 and drive with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .02% – .07%. There is a zero-tolerance law for underage drivers in Michigan. If, for example, you are a college freshman who is driving home after drinking at a kegger, and you are pulled over, you could face DUI charges. It is important to be aware that an underage DUI conviction can be marked as a misdemeanor on your criminal record, and it can be used as a prior offense for sentencing purposes in the event that you get another. This means if you are convicted of a zero-tolerance violation at age 19, with a .02 blood alcohol level, then get a regular OWI at age 24 you will be charged as a second offender. The penalties for a second offense are mandatory revocation of your driving privilege and jail for up to one year. It is important to defend a zero-tolerance case as much as possible.
As with an adult DUI, the police will go through procedures such as field sobriety tests before conducting a preliminary breath test. Even if you seem mostly unimpaired to the officer, you can face arrest and charges as an underage driver if the preliminary breath test or blood test shows any trace of alcohol in your system.
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As an underage defendant, you can be sentenced to up to 360 hours of community service, along with a $250 fine. You can face a maximum of 93 days incarcerated, 60 days of community service, and a $500 fine if charged with OWI rather than zero tolerance. In most cases, unless it is a second offense, operating while the intoxicated zero-tolerance offense will not lead to incarceration, but you still need to fight the charges. Prior convictions can affect your sentence for future operating while intoxicated violations. However, if you have two convictions under the zero-tolerance law, only one of them can be used to increase the penalties for underage drunk driving.
The court has discretion over increasing penalties for an underage DUI conviction. The difficult thing about underage DUIs is that you could face adult charges, in which case you would also face the penalties that adults face. Although it is extremely rare that the court would require an underage driver to be incarcerated, it is not completely outside the realm of possibility. Additionally, you could face educational and career consequences, such as being unable to get into the university of your choice or being unable to get a job that would allow you to support yourself because your criminal record shows up in a background check.
It would also be beneficial to enroll in rehabilitation or alcohol education programs before/during the trial. These could include counseling, educational programs, medication, therapy, or any other type of treatment that might be helpful. Education will be the most important, especially for younger people. It is not because they are alcoholics or any other such thing.
It is important to seek treatment if it is recommended. Also, it is suggested that anyone accused of OUI go through it and then show any evidence that they are moving in the right direction.
At Michigan Defense Law, underage DUI attorney Paul J. Tafelski and his team of experienced juvenile DUI lawyers may be able to help. Contact us at (248) 451-2200 to speak with an experienced DUI lawyer.
As in cases involving charges against someone over 21, our attorneys may be able to raise constitutional and procedural defenses on your behalf. To pull you over in the first place, the police must have a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. If they did not, it may be possible to get the evidence obtained during the stop suppressed. Sometimes it is wise for an underage defendant to enroll in an alcohol abuse education or rehabilitation program. They could involve counseling or medication, but in other cases, they simply allow a young person to take a different approach to alcohol, even though they do not have an abuse problem. Taking this step can also influence how a judge views the case. If you are an underage defendant who does not seem to take the charge seriously, a judge may want to make an example out of you. Enrolling in an alcohol abuse program can indicate to the court that you understand the severity of the charge. However, rushing into treatment is not the right approach in every case. Some clients think it’s smart to go to AA to show the Judge you’re serious. Many Judges will say “nice work” and order you to keep going for a year. That’s fine if the client actually will benefit from the help but not if they don’t need it. Having a customized approach to your unique situation is what gets the best results.
If you are facing an underage OWI, contact us to discuss your case.
Often, young people do not have a sound sense of how much they can drink before they are impaired. Moreover, it is common for underage drivers to be faced with peer pressure and operate a vehicle while being drunk. If your child or you were charged with underage DUI in Michigan, you should discuss your situation with our seasoned attorneys. Michigan Defense Law represents people in Oakland, Wayne, Macomb, and Washtenaw Counties.
Contact us at (248) 451-2200 or complete our online form.