Are Parents Liable for Their Child’s Underage DUI?

adult man sitting outside looking into distance

As children become teenagers, they gain more independence. As parents, this can be a scary time. Unfortunately, with newfound freedom, some teenagers make serious mistakes. If a minor under 18 is charged with DUI, can their parents be held criminally responsible?

Parental Liability for Underage DUI in Virginia

Underage DUI is punishable by:

  • Fines
  • Community service requirement
  • License suspension
  • Mandatory alcohol safety action program

If the underage driver had a BAC of .08% or caused an accident, they may face jail time and formal criminal charges. For more information on underage DUI in Virginia, click here.

In general, parents are not held criminally responsible for their child’s underage DUI and will not face any of these penalties. However, there are a few exceptions to this.

Exceptions include:

  • If the parent supplied the alcohol: If the parent gave their child the alcohol they drank before getting behind the wheel, the parents could face charges.
  • If the parent did not protect the alcohol: Similarly to weapons charges, the parent may be criminally responsible if they did not adequately lock up, hide, or otherwise secure the alcohol the minor drank before driving.

These exceptions are also applied in cases where the driver was not the child of the adult who supplied alcohol—for example, a parent throwing a party with alcohol and an underage party guest getting a DUI.

Civil Liability

While it’s rare for parents to be criminally liable, it is more likely that they will have a degree of civil liability. If the minor caused a DUI accident resulting in property damage or injury, there might be a separate civil lawsuit. In these cases, the adult parent could be held financially responsible for paying damages from the civil suit. However, this liability may stop once the minor turns 18.

Virginia Underage DUI Defense

If your child was recently stopped and cited for underage DUI, contact Tillotson & Martin, LLC today. We want to help mitigate the consequences of this mistake so that it does not affect the rest of your child’s life. Fill out our convenient online form today and a member of our team will be in touch with you shortly.