Underage DUI Attorney in Cumming
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The state of Georgia takes Driving Under the Influence charges very seriously. If the driver is under 21, stricter laws and more severe penalties can be in play. A DUI conviction will become part of your driving record, which can cause a number of difficulties in later life. It can be difficult for a minor to understand the impact that offense will have on pursuing higher education, finding a job, insurance rates, seeking loans, and more. It is important to have an experienced criminal defense attorney in Cumming Georgia to represent you if you are under 21 and have been charged with a DUI.
What Constitutes an Under 21 DUI?
For drivers over the age of 21, a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher is considered legally intoxicated and can be the basis of a DUI conviction. Although a BAC under this amount may not cause intoxication, it is still illegal for a person under 21 to consume alcohol. Therefore, a BAC of between .02 and .08 will still result in DUI charges, since the act of consuming alcohol is illegal in and of itself. In the case that the driver is shown in a breath, blood, or urine test to have a BAC of .02 to .08, their driver’s license will be suspended for six months, with no limited driving.
This means there are no exceptions to the suspension, not even for driving to school or work. A six-month suspension is also likely to be the penalty if a chemical test was not administered to the driver or if the test results were suppressed by the trial court. (Note: see below for additional information on refusing a chemical test.) In the case that the driver is found to have a BAC of .08 or more, their license will be suspended for twelve months. A full year is a long time to be completely unable to drive, and this situation can be difficult and frustrating for both the driver and their family.
Know the Truth About Your Rights During & After a DUI Arrest
It is a common misconception that it is better to refuse a breath, blood or urine test rather than take the test if you know it will show illegal levels of alcohol. In fact, refusing to submit to a chemical test will result in a twelve-month suspension of your driver’s license, just as though you had taken the test and were found to have a BAC of .08. There are also opportunities to build a defense based on whether or not the arresting officer followed proper procedure when administering the test.
Drivers under 21 also often believe that entering a Nolo Contendere plea will allow them to avoid the license suspension. Commonly known as a plea of “no contest,” a Nolo Contendere plea means that the defendant is not admitting guilt or declaring innocence, but will allow the court to consider them guilty for the purpose of sentencing. This is also a misconception; a Nolo Contendere plea is considered the same as a guilty plea in the eyes of a criminal court, and the driver will still have their license suspended.
Additional Penalties for Under 21 DUI
In addition to license suspension, drivers under 21 convicted of DUI in Georgia face a number of other potential penalties, including fines ranging from $300 to $1,000. Sentences also include a minimum of 10 days and maximum of 1 year of jail time, though a judge may suspend all but 24 hours of that time. A DUI conviction may also involve up to twelve months of probation, less any time served in jail, and at least 40 hours of community service. A defendant under 21 convicted of DUI will be expected to attend and complete Drug and Alcohol Risk Reduction School.
Second or subsequent DUI offenses committed by drivers under 21 are subject to the same penalties as those faced by drivers over 21. This shows how seriously Georgia takes DUI offenses.
A DUI conviction is especially difficult for a minor to face. It can seem like pleading guilty is the easiest, quickest option, but do not make any decisions without fully considering the consequences a DUI will have on the future. A suspended driver’s license will have an immediate effect, making work, school, and everyday life more complicated, but the impact will last long past when the driver’s license is reinstated. This mark on your permanent record will impact the decisions of future employers, banks, and more. There are options for defense in any case, whatever the circumstances; seek the legal counsel of a lawyer experienced with under 21 DUI to find out what the best option for your case is.
Call our Cumming under 21 DUI attorney today at (678) 257-4507 to schedule your free consultation.
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