What to Expect If Your Underage Child Has Been Charged with a DUI
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, alcohol is a factor in more than one third of fatal crashes involving 16 to 20 year olds. In an effort to reduce this heavy toll, Pennsylvania has instituted a zero tolerance policy for underage drinking and driving. This means that there are strict criminal penalties for anyone under the age of 21 caught while driving under the influence of alcohol. For adults, the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) is set at .08. For people under the age of 21, however, the legal BAC limit is .02. Even one beer can put an underage person over the legal limit.
An underage DUI is often a young person’s first contact with the criminal justice system. Getting pulled over, arrested, and thrown into jail can be a humiliating and traumatizing experience. Fortunately, an experienced Pittsburgh DUI lawyer may be able to intervene so it doesn’t get any worse from there. A careful review of the case may show potential ways of avoiding criminal liability and the long lasting collateral consequences of an underage DUI conviction. For a free consultation about the defense of your case, call Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC today at (412) 281-2146 or use our online contact form.
You Need to Make a Stand During the Early Stages of your Underage DUI Case
Our experience shows that the most effective strategy for obtaining a positive case outcome in an underage DUI case is to advocate fiercely on our clients’ behalf during the early stages of the criminal justice process. When our clients call us soon after their arrest, we are able to counsel them against making any statements to the police–which often prove fatal to the defense’s case.
Next, we review the police report and seek to cross-examine the arresting officer to determine the exact circumstances and timeline of the DUI arrest. This is important because if the police abuse their authority, violate your rights, or make any procedural missteps, you may be in a position to request the dismissal of the charges against you.
Common examples of police misconduct in DUI cases include:
- Pulling you over without an articulable suspicion
- Making an arrest without probable cause
- Searching your vehicle without a lawful justification
- Mishandling your blood or urine sample
- Using a breathalyzer that is poorly maintained or improperly calibrated
When any of the above happens to you, your lawyer may request that evidence be removed from the prosecutor’s case. If this motion to suppress the evidence is successful, the prosecutor may not have enough evidence to use at the trial, which often gives us the ability to ask the judge to dismiss the whole case.
ARD for Young Offenders
If this strategy is not an option, we can still obtain a positive case outcome by negotiating with the prosecutor before your trial starts. With a young client who is more often than not a first offender, we are often able to convince the prosecutor to move the case into Alternative Rehabilitative Disposition, or ARD. Instead of being formally convicted of the crime, the judge will order you to perform community service and get substance abuse counseling. If you successfully pass through the probationary period, the charges will be dismissed and you can eventually request the expungement of your record.
What Are the Consequences of an Underage DUI Conviction?
You need to act fast and get the help of a good drunk driving lawyer because a conviction for underage DUI involves harsh penalties, including a two day to six-month jail sentence, a year to year and a half license suspension, and fines ranging from $500 to $5,000. In addition to these criminal penalties, you will also need to deal with the collateral consequences of a conviction, which include:
- Court costs
- Towing and impounding fees
- License restoration fees
- Increased insurance premiums
- Disciplinary action from school
- Possible career roadblocks
Our Underage DUI Attorneys Can Help You
All things considered, an underage DUI may cost thousands of dollars and severely jeopardize your child’s educational and career opportunities. With so much at risk, it’s worthwhile to invest in good legal representation. At Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC we have a proven track record of achieving positive case results in DUI cases–especially when our clients come to us early on in the criminal justice process. Call us today at (412) 281-2146 or use our online contact form for a free consultation of your case.