Being convicted of an underage DUI in Virginia can have a long-lasting, negative effect on your life. Virginia enforces a “zero-tolerance” policy when it comes to underage DUI charges. Any time a driver under the age of 21 years old is driving a vehicle with a blood alcohol content of .02 percent or more, the driver can face underage DUI charges. When the underage driver’s blood alcohol content is over .08 percent, he or she can face standard DUI charges.
If you or your loved one is facing an underage DUI charge, you must speak with an experienced defense lawyer as soon as possible. A Virginia underage DUI defense lawyer can help you build a strong defense and minimize the likelihood that you’ll be convicted. After reviewing the facts of our client’ cases, our skilled lawyers can help protect your rights. Contact Surovell Isaacs & Levy PLC today to schedule your initial consultation.
Virginia’s Underage DUI Laws
Under Virginia’s underage DUI law, an underage driver can be charged as an adult, depending on the circumstances. Underage DUI charges will apply when the driver’s level of blood alcohol content (BAC) is .02 percent or higher. Because the legal limit is so low, Virginia is essentially a no-tolerance zone when it comes to underage drinking and driving. For almost all drivers, consuming only one drink can result in a BAC of .02 percent or higher.
The Penalties for a Virginia Underage DUI Conviction
Those convicted of an underage DWI face fines between $500 to $2,500. Virginia judges have the option to order the defendant to 50 hours of community service instead of a fine. Additionally, those convicted of underage DUI will experience a mandatory driver’s license suspension. Law enforcement officers are required to immediately seize the underage driver’s license during an underage DUI arrest.
Virginia courts keep the underage driver’s license for a mandatory period, depending on the defendant’s criminal history. The court will keep the defendant’s license for seven days if the charge is a first-time offense. For the second DUI offense, the court will keep the license for 60 days. If the defendant has been charged with a third or additional DUI charge, the court will keep the license until the defendant’s trial. When the court convicts the underage driver, he or she will face a mandatory one-year driver’s license suspension.
Underage Drivers Can Face Adult DUI Charges in Virginia
When a driver under the age of 21 tests for a BAC of .08 percent or higher, he or she will face charges like an adult under Virginia’s DUI law. The only difference between facing an adult DUI charge and an underage DUI charge is your BAC. Adult DUI charges come with more severe penalties than underage DUI charges.
When law enforcement officers do not adequately test suspects for their BAC, you will be able to argue that the court should throw out the test results. As a defendant, you are entitled to constitutional protections. Law enforcement officers must conduct all DUI testing accurately and adequately. For example, law enforcement officials must have a reasonable suspicion to pull underage drivers over on the road.
Those convicted of a regular, adult DUI face serious criminal charges. The penalties for DUIs in Virginia depend on the circumstances of the case and whether or not you have any previous convictions. It is essential to speak to a Virginia underage DUI lawyer as soon as possible after you learn that you’re facing charges. The more time your defense lawyer has to develop your defense strategy, the better.
Refusing to Take a Drug Test During a DUI Arrest
When law enforcement arrests someone for an underage DWI, the driver must submit to a breath or blood test. Virginia has an implied consent law for DUI testing. When an arrest is lawful, the driver must allow law enforcement to conduct a BAC breath test or blood test. Those suspects who refuse the testing can face additional fines, longer driver’s license suspensions, and possible jail time.
The Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program
Those convicted of driving while under the influence in Virginia, you may be required to go through a substance abuse education program. Known colloquially as “DUI school,” Virginia judges frequently require those convicted of DUIs to complete the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program (VASAP). Completion of VASAP is often a condition to re-obtaining a suspended driver’s license.
Finishing the VASAP program can also be a condition of a suspended jail sentence. In a suspended sentence, a judge can allow the defendant to fulfill certain conditions during a probation period before the jail sentence happens. When the defendant satisfies the requirements, the judge will usually dismiss the jail sentence.
Our Underage DUI Lawyers Fight Hard for Our Clients
At Surovell Isaacs & Levy PLC, we often negotiate with prosecutors to help our clients receive a reduced sentence. If you qualify for a suspended jail sentence, we can advocate for the judge to allow you to complete a probationary period and the VASAP program so you can avoid jail time. When a suspended sentence is not an option, we will fight hard to get your underage DUI charges dismissed. Our lawyers have decades of experience negotiating with prosecutors to help our clients receive the best possible outcome.
Contact Our Underage DUI Defense Lawyers Today
At Surovell Isaacs & Levy PLC, we have significant criminal defense experience. We understand what’s at stake for those facing underage DUI charges. Our lawyers leverage our legal knowledge to fight for your rights as a defendant throughout the entire process.
Our extensive experience in Virginia’s criminal courts helps us stay a step ahead of the prosecution. If you’re facing DUI charges, it is crucial that you speak to a defense lawyer as soon as possible. Contact our law offices today to schedule your free consultation.