What College Students Need To Know About Underage DUI

group of young students sitting at a table

College is a time synonymous with making mistakes. For some, it’s simple things like failing a class, spending too much money, or having a bit too much fun on the weekends. But for others, the mistakes are much bigger. If you or your child were recently charged with underage DUI, here’s what you need to know and what you can expect.

Underage DUI Charges

While all drivers over 21 are required to stay under the legal limit of 0.08% blood alcohol content, young drivers are held to a different standard. Under Zero Tolerance laws, the legal limit for drivers under 21 is 0.02%, or essentially any amount of detectable alcohol. This could be someone’s blood alcohol content after just one drink.

For driving under the influence of drugs charges, drivers both over and under 21 must remain sober while driving. Both age groups can face the same charges for driving under the influence of marijuana, cocaine, prescription medicine, or even cold and flu medicine if it inhibits their ability to drive safely.

Underage DUI Penalties

An underage DUI, also sometimes referred to as a baby DUI in Virginia, comes with serious consequences.

A minor convicted of misdemeanor underage DUI faces:

  • Up to one year in jail
  • One year driver’s license suspension
  • Up to $2,500 in fines
  • Mandatory community service hours
  • Mandatory alcohol safety program completion

Young drivers could face even more severe penalties if their DUI involved:

  • A significantly high BAC
  • An accident causing property damage, injury, or death
  • Especially reckless driving behavior
  • Minor passengers in the car

Luckily, most underage DUI cases will not involve jail time. Judges are likely to give first-time offenders a bit of leniency, especially if the case was standard.

Specific Consequences of Underage Drivers

It’s important to note that though underage drivers likely won’t have to spend time in jail and may only face a few formal criminal penalties, there are many other ways their underage DUI can affect their life.

School scholarships. Financial aid through the FAFSA should not be affected by a DUI on record, however, independent school scholarships may be revoked after an underage DUI conviction. This could be work-study opportunities, grants, or other benefits.

School sports. Student-athletes should be aware that an underage DUI could place them on suspension from their sports team or have them removed permanently.

Limited career opportunities. If a college student is looking to go into a field like healthcare, law, education, or law enforcement, they should know that a DUI on their record can make them unable to get the necessary certifications or render them ineligible for certain careers.

School suspension. Depending on the college conduct rules, an underage DUI may lead to a student being suspended or expelled from campus.

Graduate school. Students with graduate school aspirations should note that they may have to disclose their underage DUI in their application materials. It may also be accessible through a background check. While this may not lead to their immediate rejection, it could be factored into the admission decision.

Emotional struggles. Many individuals of all ages report struggling emotionally after a DUI. The driver may feel guilty, remorseful, angry, or depressed about their arrest and conviction.

Here’s an important note: drivers over 21 should also know that a DUI conviction can affect their schooling. If their college has strict policies regarding criminal convictions, they may experience some or all of these same consequences.

Virginia Underage DUI Defense

The team at Tillotson & Martin, LLC understands that making mistakes is a part of growing up. We want to ensure that your child’s underage DUI does not haunt them for years in the future, or inhibit their opportunities. These cases require unique defense as the driver was not legally allowed to consume alcohol to begin with. We’ve handled numerous underage DUI cases and you can trust us to work tirelessly for you. Speak with a member of our team today, call (757) 568-7978.