The State of Florida allows for no exceptions when it comes to driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In the best-case scenario it’s a mid-level misdemeanor, unless your Fort Lauderdale DUI defense attorney can help you plead down the charge or possibly succeed in having the case dismissed altogether.
Intoxicated drivers under age 21 generally don’t face consequences any more serious than those who are of-age, but the definition of “impairment” for underage drivers holds them to a much more stringent standard.
Anyone over 21 is considered to be intoxicated with the blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08, as measured either by a breathalyzer or blood test. But for drivers under 21, a BAC of just 0.02 is enough to be deemed impaired. It should be noted that those with even lower BACs than these can be arrested for DUI in Florida if, per F.S. 316.193, it is established that his/her normal faculties are impaired.
Underage DUI Can Result in Both Criminal and Administrative Penalties
The impact of an underage DUI conviction will depend on the concentration of alcohol in your system and whether you were involved in a crash.
If you are cited for DUI under F.S. 322.2616 , meaning you had a BAC higher than 0.02 (but below 0.05) and the officer decides to detain you, it’s not considered a formal arrest. Nor is it a traffic violation. It will result in administrative penalties – namely a suspension of your driver’s license for six months. If you refuse to submit to a roadside breathalyzer test when the police pull you over, you will face an automatic 18-month license suspension.
This will not be part of your criminal record, but it will be recorded on your driving history.
If your BAC is 0.05 or higher (but lower than 0.08), you will not be allowed to have your license reinstated until passing a substance abuse evaluation and course (for which you must cover the costs).
This is not to say you can’t be criminally charged if you drive intoxicated while under 21. Certainly if your recorded BAC is 0.08 or higher, you would most likely be prosecuted under F.S. 316.193, which is the standard criminal DUI law for adults.
If you are charged under that statute – regardless of whether you’re under 21 – you face the same penalties as any other adult. This includes a fine of between $500 to $1,000, license suspension of up to one year, impounding of your vehicle, up to 6 months in jail and 50 hours of community service. Further, a conviction under this provision will remain on your permanent criminal record. In turn, this could mean difficulty finding a job or with your educational standing.
Other Potential Crimes Related to Underage Alcohol Consumption
The circumstances of your encounter with police could result in charges for other crimes too. Some of these include:
Giving alcohol to minors. If other underage passengers in your vehicle are under the influence, you may be charged with giving alcohol to minors. (This would not apply if minors – over 18 but under 21 – are “tasting” alcohol as part of a post-secondary curriculum by an accredited institution taught by an instructor over age 21.)
Possession of a fake ID. This can be charged either as a felony or a misdemeanor in Florida, per F.S. 322.212. More than likely, possession of a fake ID with no priors on your criminal record will result in a misdemeanor charge. However, if it is discovered you are unlawfully producing government IDs, you can be charged with a third-degree penalty, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Bear in mind that with any of these charges, penalties can be more severe if you have priors offenses on your criminal record, if your BAC is 0.15 or above or if the incident concerned involved a crash.
If you are arrested for underage DUI in Fort Lauderdale, our dedicated criminal defense attorneys can help.
Call Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
The High Costs of DUI in Florida, Feb. 24, 2019, Bradenton Times