Attempts to curb underage drinking are admirable. However, those younger than the legal drinking age of 21 will still find a way to get alcohol. Sometimes, it’s at a party or sometimes it’s closer to home. Either way, when you combine alcohol and driving, it’s a bad situation. Mistakes happen, and underage DUI’s become a relevant problem.
Underage DUI’s: How They’re Different
What’s the limit?
In South Carolina, all drivers can receive a conviction of a standard DUI if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .08% of more. However, if you are under the age of 21, you can have a charge of an underage DUI if your BAC is .02% or more. Underage DUI’s can happen at any point over the .02% level.
Who gets to choose?
The officer who pulls the driver over will decide how to cite the person. If the BAC of the driver is over .02% but less than .08% it will depend on how impaired they seem. If it seems the driver is not impaired enough to meet the definition of “under the influence”, they will probably face charges for an underage DUI. Underage DUI’s are not the same as standard DUI’s.
In cases of underage DUI’s, there will be no jail time or court fines. An underage DUI is handled through the Department of Motor Vehicles instead of through the criminal court. Since there is no criminal court, there is no criminal conviction. The driver stopped for a an underage DUI will have to enroll in the Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program.
In addition to the treatment plan recommended by the program, there are other actions. You will face license suspension for three months (six months for a second conviction) if the driver submits to a chemical test. If you refuse the chemical testing, you will automatically face license suspension for six months (and a year for the second offense).
Do I need a lawyer?
Since standard DUI’s will always go to court, most will not question the need for a lawyer. But do you need one for underage DUI’s? In short, yes. If you wish to file an objection to the administrative action, you will have a 30 day window to do so. A lawyer can help with this action.