Underage DUI and Its Consequences

All 50 states in the United States classify driving under the influence of alcohol as a crime. For someone under the age of 21, a blood alcohol concentration level of .02 percent is sufficient to be arrested and charged with several crimes.

In general, a minor caught driving under the influence can face fines ranging from $100 up to $2,500 and payment of all fees related to the punishment ordered by the judge. In addition, he faces confinement behind bars for a period ranging from two days to one year, probation ranging from three to five years and 30 to 60 days of community service. Law enforcement will impound the car the minor was driving. His driving privileges can be revoked for as little as 90 days or as much as three years. He may be ordered to attend and participate in a drug and alcohol treatment program, along with driver’s education classes.

Criminal charges imposed on someone arrested for underage DUI go beyond the DUI and underage drinking. The police officer can charge him with being a minor in possession of alcohol and distributing alcohol to other minors, should other drunk passengers be in the vehicle. He can be charged with soliciting alcohol from an adult, violation of child endangerment laws and possession of false ID, if fake IDs are found. If the officer finds other violations have been committed, the minor can be charged with these as well.

In 2005, 7,460 young people ranging in age from 15 to 20 died in motor vehicle accidents, including drivers and passengers. More underage male drivers were involved in fatal vehicle accidents, compared to underage female drivers; 24 percent of male drivers were under the influence while 12 percent of female drivers were under the influence at the times of their accidents. Teen drivers are more likely to overlook buckling their seat belts while under the influence, with 74 percent driving unrestrained at the times of their accidents.

Teens are beginning to drink at younger ages, with two of five 8th graders and more than two-thirds of 10th graders drinking more than a few sips of alcohol. By the time these teens reach their senior year of high school, three-fourths have consumed more than a few sips of alcohol.

More adolescents are engaging in binge drinking, with 11 percent of 8th graders, 22 percent of 10th graders and 29 percent of 12th graders drinking five or more alcoholic drinks at one time, according to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.