What Happens to a Teen Charged with DUI?
In Pennsylvania, juveniles can be charged with many types of crimes, including DUI. Authorities arrest and prosecute minors who operate motor vehicles under the influence, so you should contact a juvenile law attorney as soon as possible. The sooner you act, the better outcome you can obtain for your child.
A Lower BAC for Teens
Pennsylvania casts a wide net when it comes to drivers under the legal drinking age of 21. Specifically, a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .02 or higher is considered intoxicated and can result in a DUI. This is often referred to as the “zero tolerance” law for underage drivers.
Interestingly, most people can comfortably operate a vehicle with a BAC of up to .05, so it is entirely possible your teen’s driving wasn’t impaired when they were pulled over. Nevertheless, they are technically in violation of the law, so you should pursue your possible legal defenses with an experienced juvenile law attorney.
Consequences of a Conviction
Juvenile courts in Pennsylvania are focused on rehabilitating offenders, so there are many benefits if your teen is charged with DUI as a juvenile. Among the most important advantages is that the offense will not show up on your child’s criminal record if they are convicted.
However, an underage DUI – or any underage alcohol offense – can result in fines and the suspension of their driver’s license. Furthermore, the DUI will still appear on your child’s driving record even if it doesn’t appear on their criminal record. Because of this, the DUI could negatively impact their insurance rates and their ability to get a job in the future.
Rehabilitation, Not Punishment
Instead of going to trial, a juvenile charged with DUI has a potential range of programs available, all of which are focused on rehabilitating them. For example, your child might qualify for any of the following:
- The charges might be dismissed by informal adjudication if your child serves probation for a certain amount of time without any new infractions.
- Your child might serve formal probation for a set amount of time, such as two years. They will need to comply with all of the conditions of probation.
- Your child can participate in a Youth Diversion Program. This program requires a fee, community service, and a course on alcohol or drug awareness.
Even if your child goes to trial, a skilled juvenile crime lawyer can build the strongest defense possible by explaining the child’s substance abuse and showing that they are not at risk of reoffending. In some situations, prosecutors can ask the juvenile court to transfer the case to the criminal court, which will allow the state to charge them as an adult. An experienced juvenile crime lawyer will know how to argue against the transfer motion.
Call a West Chester DUI Defense Lawyer Today
When your child is arrested, you need aggressive legal help from someone experienced with juvenile criminal law. The Skinner Law Firm represents clients of all ages who are facing allegations of driving under the influence in Philadelphia. Contact us online or call 610-436-1410. Consultations are free.