DUI under 21
Nothing is more difficult than getting a phone call from your college-age son or daughter, telling you they’re in jail for DUI and need to be bonded out. He or she swears to you that all they had was “one beer”. Even if this is true, unfortunately, what qualifies as a “DUI” for someone under 21 is not the same thing as what qualifies as DUI for someone over 21.
Everybody knows that lots of people under the age of 21 drink, many as young as eighteen, some even as young as fourteen. Regardless of the realities of who really drinks, the drinking age is still 21, and drinking alcohol a day before 21 is technically still illegal. Even if it’s “one beer”, all state governments have various forms of “zero tolerance law” for DUI by persons under 21, and they take it very serious. This is because 15% of fatal crashes involve a driver that is under the age of 21.
Driving after drinking is illegal if you are over the legal limit. The legal limited is blood-alcohol content of 0.8. Anything over this and you will be arrested, and you technically can be arrested for DUI less safe even if you are below it. In the state of Georgia, persons under the age of 21 will be prosecuted for DUI if their blood alcohol content is above the legal limit 0.02.
Unlike the imaginary line between age 16 and age 17, upon which the juvenile record is automatically erased (with the exception of being charged as an adult), there is no imaginary line between age 20 and 21. In many respects, drunk driving carries more series consequences for someone over 17 and under 21 years of age than it does for someone who is under 21 but also under 17.
There are serious consequences for a conviction of DUI under 21, even if it is your first conviction. If you or your son/daughter are convicted, their license will be suspended for six months, and no limited driving permit will be available. The conviction carries a fine that can be as low as $300, and possibly up to $1000. Oftentimes it can carry a penalty of ten days in jail with conviction. The maximum sentence could be an entire year in jail.
If you or your son/daughter is not yet 21, you do not want them to start out their adult life with a criminal record. A DUI can destroy many job opportunities in the future. There is an urban myth floating around that pleading “no contest” will prevent the license from being suspended. This is not true for a DUI for anyone. If you are under 21 and have been charged with a DUI, or have a son/daugther under 21 that has been charged with a DUI, they need and deserve the best legal representation that they can possibly afford.