According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 10 American teenagers report that they have driven while under the influence of alcohol.
This might be an alarming statistic to hear for both teenagers and their parents, but underage drinking is more common than many would like to think. And it often only increases the risk of an underage DUI.
Driving under the influence of alcohol is already illegal in Kentucky, and the penalties of a DUI can increase significantly if the individual is underage.
What penalties could underage drivers face if charged with a DUI?
The legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit in Kentucky is 0.08%. However, children under 21 only have to have a BAC of 0.02% or higher to face a DUI and the serious consequences that come with it.
The first conviction of an underage DUI could potentially result in penalties such as:
- Paying fines anywhere between $100 and $500;
- Giving up their license for up to six months;
- Participating in a substance abuse program for up to 90 days; and
- Serving at least 20 hours of community service.
These are not the only potential penalties either. If a teen’s BAC is 0.08% or higher, they will face the same penalties that individuals over 21 do. Teenagers could also face additional criminal charges if there were other teenagers in the car, they possessed alcohol in the vehicle or they caused an accident involving injuries.
The penalties of an underage DUI can extend beyond a criminal record
Like any other DUI, an underage DUI can often have a much larger effect on a teenager’s life and future. In Kentucky, a DUI conviction could stay on an individual’s record for nearly five years. And expunging that charge is not possible until nearly 10 years after the charge is issued.
Therefore, a DUI charge could affect their:
- Ability to get into college;
- Ability and eligibility to obtain a job; and
- Insurance rates that either they or their parents will have to pay.
These additional penalties might make them feel isolated, which could also affect the personal relationships they have with both their family members and their friends.
That is why underage drivers must understand the risks of an underage DUI. It can be difficult to fight the charges of an underage DUI alone, so it is often beneficial for families to consult an experienced criminal defense lawyer to protect their rights.