Since Florida is a prominent vacation state and people from across the country congregate to enjoy the warm weather, beaches and litany of activities available, drivers who get behind the wheel after drinking alcohol is perceived as a major problem. Law enforcement is out in force – especially during holidays like the just-passed Labor Day – to watch for potential DUIs. In general, a person who registers a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 will be charged with DUI. However, for those under age 21, the rules are different. Given the number of colleges in the state and the endless series of sporting events along with the daily entertainment options to choose from, underage people are often caught and charged with alcohol-related violations and it is not necessarily a DUI. Knowing the law for juveniles and how to create a defense is important for the future.
Underage drivers face different rules for alcohol issues
Anyone under the age of 21 will face a driver license suspension if they register 0.02 BAC. This is because people under 21 are not legally allowed to drink. Of course, many will do so regardless and they may not face any legal consequences for it if they do not get behind the wheel. But being in physical control of a vehicle will likely warrant charges. An officer who investigates when a driver under 21 is in control of a vehicle can detain that person and ask that they submit to a test to determine their BAC.
The officer is also able to suspend the driver license of an underage person who registers 0.02 and do so immediately, even before there has been a trial. If the driver refuses the test, this too is a violation. Those who might not have had anything to drink frequently make the mistake of refusing under the belief that they have the legal right to do so. This too will result in a suspension. Despite that, the officer can issue a temporary 10-day driving privilege. For drivers who register 0.05 or higher, the license will remain suspended until he or she has taken a course to address substance abuse. If the driver is under 18 and registers 0.02 or higher, he or she can be taken to an addictions receiving facility.
Understanding a formal review
An option that can often yield positive results is requesting a formal review. The suspension can be called into question if, for example, the officer did not have probable cause to think the person was under 21 and was driving or was in control of the motor vehicle. Other factors that can be questioned are if the driver was under 21 and whether the BAC was 0.02 or above. With a refusal case, the juvenile is required to have been told by the officer that refusing would lead to a driver license suspension for at least one year if it was a first offense and 18 months if it was a second offense. Failure to provide this information can lead to a dismissal. The breath test itself can be called into question if it was not given according to established protocol or there was a problem with the machine.
Juveniles should know their rights regarding alcohol infractions
Juvenile crimes can follow a person around for an extended period and negatively impact them in many ways. Parents and juveniles should remember that simply because there was an arrest for alcohol-related violations and a driver license was suspended, it does not automatically imply guilt. While it is not advisable for underage people to get behind the wheel after drinking, they are not necessarily guilty. Having experienced assistance with assessing the case and determining the wisest course of action for a defense is imperative. To avoid potential long-term challenges, consulting with those who understand juvenile law can be helpful to reach a positive resolution without substantial penalties.