West Chester

Underage DUI Lawyer

Anyone under the age of 21 who is caught driving with alcohol in their system can be charged with DUI. This makes Pennsylvania a “Zero Tolerance” state. This means that an underage DUI comes with very severe penalties on top of any penalties that may be imposed for underage drinking. If you, your child or a loved one has been charged with Underage DUI, it is imperative you hire a qualified West Chester DUI lawyer to protect his or her rights and future.

Skinner Law Firm may be able to help you or your child fight an underage DUI in West Chester, Phoenixville, Kennett Square, Oxford, Coatesville, or anywhere in Chester County. This may be the difference in preserving their criminal record and retaining driving privileges. It is important to consult with an attorney to discuss your options, including what happened, the possible penalties of an underage DUI, and ways to improve the situation. To schedule a free and confidential consultation with attorney Michael J. Skinner, call (610) 436-1410 today, or reach out online.

Underage DUI Laws in Pennsylvania

Under Pennsylvania law, it is illegal for any minor to drive with any measure of alcohol in his or her system. However, there is a legal limit defined in Pennsylvania Code Title 75 Section 3802(e). This part of the code states that a minor may not drive, operate, or be in actual physical control of the movement of a vehicle with a blood or breath alcohol (BAC) level of .02%.

A minor can be charged with underage DUI whether or not the legal level is reached. A BAC of .02% or greater qualifies a minor to be punished under a DUI section with more severe penalties. A minor can also be prosecuted under the drugged driving section.

Any person under the age of 21 years old can be arrested for DUI if there is a blood-alcohol level of .02% in their body. The reading is so low that essentially any measurable amount of alcohol can lead to a conviction for DUI. The young person can also be charged with DUI even if he or she refuses to submit to a breath, blood or urine test.

A minor for DUI purposes is considered anyone under the age of 21 years old. Young people who are under 18 are prosecuted in the juvenile justice system. A young person charged with DUI who is over 18 but under 21 will be prosecuted in adult court.

Pennsylvania Underage DUI Penalties

An underage DUI conviction could stay on your record permanently. Additionally, a minor does not have to be over a .02% BAC to be found guilty of DUI.

Since the legal drinking age in Pennsylvania is 21, there are two different categories of penalties for underage DUI offenders. One category is for juvenile offenders 17 and under, and the other category is for adult offenders 18-20 years old. The penalties an underage DUI offender faces, if convicted, include the following:

Juvenile Underage DUI – 17 or younger

  • Probation
  • Alcohol education and/or treatment
  • Juvenile Institutional Commitment
  • Fine
  • 6-month license suspension

Adult Underage DUI: 18 – 20 years old

First Offense:

  • 48 hours to 6 months in jail;
  • $500-$5,000 fine;
  • Alcohol highway safety school;
  • Alcohol and/or drug treatment;
  • 12-month license suspension

Second offense:

  • 30 days to 6 months in jail;
  • $750 – $5,000 fine;
  • Alcohol highway safety school
  • Alcohol and/or drug treatment
  • 12-month license suspension
  • Installation of Ignition Interlock

These punishments are in addition to any other offenses involving illegal consumption, purchase or possession of alcohol. In addition, in cases involving BAC levels over .02%, a minor may still be prosecuted under a more severe subsection, which would include more jail and stiffer fines.

If you or your child is over 18, he or she may qualify for the Pennsylvania Accelerated Disposition Program (ARD). Any defendant who successfully completes ARD is entitled to have his or her record expunged. Your underage DUI attorney will be able to help you determine what the best outcome can be.

Where are Underage DUI Cases Handled?

Any minor under the age of 18 years old who is convicted of Driving Under the Influence (DUI) will be supervised in the juvenile justice system after being sentenced by a judge in juvenile court. A law enforcement officer can arrest the child without the consent of the parent.

Other crimes involving juveniles and alcohol include attempting to purchase, purchasing, consuming, possessing or knowingly or intentionally transporting any alcoholic beverage. It is also a crime to lie about your age or carrying a false ID card to obtain alcohol.

A conviction for lying about your age or carrying a fake ID case will lead to a driver’s license suspension for 90 days and fines of up to $300 for a first offense. If the minor is under 16, then the 90-day driver’s license suspension begins on their 16th birthday.

Call a West Chester Underage DUI Attorney

Fight for your driving privileges and your future by calling the Skinner Law Firm today. Your first consultation is free. Contact us at (610) 436-1410 to discuss how you came to be charged with an underage DUI and what we can do to help.

Attorney Michael Skinner represents young people charged with DUI and other serious driving offenses such as hit and run, fleeing to eluding, and drugged driving throughout Chester County, Pennsylvania. Whether the case involves a breath, blood or urine test or a refusal to submit to chemical testing, attorney Skinner can help.