Posted in Atlanta DUI Law on December 31, 2019
Getting caught for driving under the influence (DUI) in Georgia is difficult enough if you’re an adult. Things are even dicier if you’re under the age of 21.
No matter where you live in the U.S., 21 is the legal drinking age.
Make no mistake, though: police officers are not fools. They realize many minors will drink alcohol. Some will make the even more dangerous decision to get behind the wheel and drive. Doing so means they can be charged with underage DUI.
In an effort to curb underage drinking and driving, the State of Georgia has put laws in place that make the penalties for underage DUI even stiffer than those for adults.
What’s the Legal Limit for Under Age DUI in Georgia?
Adults can be charged with DUI if their blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.8 percent.
The DUI legal threshold for minors is a BAC reading of 0.02 percent – which is pretty much what one person would have after drinking just one beer or one glass of wine. The 0.02 percent barrier is essentially a zero-tolerance law, as 0.02 is the lowest reading a breath-testing machine can detect.
What Are the Legal Penalties for Underage DUI in Georgia?
Even for a first offense charge of underage DUI, the potential legal penalties are tough. They get increasingly tougher with subsequent charges.
First-time underage DUI penalties in Georgia include:
- A minimum of 24 hours in jail
- Fines of $300, which usually climb to over $1,000 once surcharges are included
- 6-month suspension of your driver’s license, and
- 12 months of probation with random alcohol and drug screenings.
For a second offense underage DUI charge:
- Jail time is extended to 72 hours (3 days)
- 1-year suspension of driver’s license
- Fines jump to $600, which will actually translate to about $1,300 after surcharges, and
- 30 hours of community service.
A third underage DUI charge carries penalties, including:
- 15 days in jail
- $1,700 in fines
- License suspension for 2 years, and
- 40 hours of community service.
Since an underage DUI conviction remains on your record for the rest of your life, other potential consequences include having increased difficulty in being admitted to college and finding employment.
What Should I Do If I’m Charged With Underage DUI?
What you say and how you act while engaging with the police officer will go a long way in determining what happens next.
Keep in mind that anything you say can be used later against you in court. The best course of action is to keep your cool, be polite, and say as little as possible.
As soon as you’re able, either have your parents call a DUI attorney or make the call yourself so that you will have legal representation.
Also, while things are still fresh in your mind, document all you can remember from the encounter with police. Be sure to include:
- How fast you were driving when the police pulled you over
- Driving and weather conditions
- Whether you were provided with your Miranda Rights verbally by the officer, and
- Condition of your car (missing license plate, taillights, headlights, etc.).
This information can be invaluable to your defense lawyer in determining if the officer was justified in pulling you over.
Keep in mind that a charge for underage DUI is very different from an actual conviction.
The safest bet for making sure the charge is either dismissed altogether or reduced is to rely upon the expertise of a skilled DUI defense lawyer.
How Can I Help My Lawyer Succeed With My Case?
The best thing you can do to help your lawyer avoid a conviction is to take the matter seriously and be as engaged as possible. This means working together with your defense lawyer, and doing exactly what you’re told to do.
Ask for ways that may lessen the penalties, including volunteering to attend alcohol awareness classes. Because the judge’s decision will be based in large part on the likelihood of you repeating the offense, the importance of acting and dressing professionally in court cannot be overemphasized.
What Are the Penalties for Buying Alcohol for a Minor?
Just as underage DUI carries heavy-hitting penalties, you can be in for a rough time if you – as an adult – purchase alcohol for a minor.
For this charge, you could be facing up to a year in jail and $1,000 in fines.