The State of Florida is one of the strictest states when it comes to the crime of "Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol (DUI)." If you or your child have been arrested and convicted of DUI in Florida, the best possible situation will result in a mid-level misdemeanor. This is why you should speak to a qualified Florida DUI Defense Attorney as quickly as possible. An experienced DUI Defense Lawyer will work hard on your behalf to reduce your charges or have your criminal case dismissed. Also, your attorney will be able to fight for your driving privileges. In Florida, you must request a hearing within a few days of your arrest in order to fight for your driving privileges. In DUI cases involving drivers who are under the age of 21, an automatic license suspension may occur even if you or your child is under the legal permissible Blood Alcohol Level falls between 0.02% and 0.08%.
At Musca Law, our attorneys fight hard to plead down your criminal charges while fighting to have your criminal case dropped altogether. For your free case review, call us toll-free at 1-888-484-5057. Our firm is available to speak to you 24 hours a day and 365 days a year.
Does an Underage Driver Receive Harsher Penalties if Found Guilty of DUI in the State of Florida?
A driver who is under the legal age of drinking and has been convicted of DUI faces severe, life-altering penalties. However, underage drivers do not suffer harsher penalties than those individuals who are 21 years of age or older. The key difference in underage DUI cases and DUI cases involving "of age" drivers is how Florida defines "impairment." Underage drivers may be deemed "impaired" by law enforcement even though their breathalyzer test or their blood chemical test results fall beneath 0.08%, which is what the state considers to be impaired with drivers 21 years of age or older. In other words, an underage driver may still be regarded as impaired, although he or she has a blood alcohol content under the legal limit of 0.08%. In fact, drivers under 21 with a BAC of just 0.02% could be considered impaired. There have been numerous examples of underage drivers who have been arrested for having even lower BACs than 0.02%. According to Florida Statute 316.193, a driver under the age of 21 may be arrested and charged with a DUI if the law enforcement officer is able to establish that the driver's normal faculties are impaired.
If you or your child has been cited for DUI under Florida Statute 322.2616 indicating that you or your child had a BAC greater than 0.02% but below 0.05%, and the police officer detains you or your child, this was not a formal arrest. Also, the charge will not be a traffic violation. Although there is no criminal charge or citation for DUI, the situation will result in an administrative penalty, and you or your child's driver's license will be automatically suspended for six months. Should you or your child refuse to take a roadside breathalyzer test as ordered by law enforcement, the driver's license suspension will increase to a total of 18 months. Fortunately, in these circumstances, you or your child will not receive a criminal record for this offense. However, the offense will be recorded on the driver's driving history, which can cause issues with insurance coverage.
In cases where an underage driver has a BAC of 0.05% or greater (but under 0.08%), the driver is required to take a substance abuse course and pass a substance abuse evaluation before their driver's license will be reinstated.
If an underage driver has a BAC level of 0.08% or higher, the driver will be prosecuted in accordance with Florida Statute 316.193. This is the same criminal charge that drivers 21 years of age and older face when arrested for DUI. If convicted of DUI under Florida Statute 316.193, you will face penalties such as
- a driver's license suspension of up to one year,
- a fine between $500 to $1,000,
- up to six months in jail, and
- up to 50 hours of community service.
The penalties will be elevated if other criminal offenses are added, such as Driving Under the Influence with a child in the car, if your BAC is 0.15 or more, or if you cause property damage or personal injury to another while Driving Under the Influence. A conviction of DUI will be added to your criminal record, making it difficult to land a quality job.
Additional Charges That May Be Brought in an Underage DUI Charge
Often times, when an underage driver has been drinking alcohol, and he or she has been pulled over by police, there are other offenses that he or she may be charged with during the roadside investigation.
A few of these offenses include:
Furnishing Alcohol to Minors - If you have been pulled over by law enforcement and the other occupants in your car are under the influence of alcohol and are under the age of 21, you could be charged with giving alcohol to minors.
Possession of Fake Identification (I.D.) - In accordance with Florida Statute 322.212, a criminal charge of "possessing a fake I.D." is a serious offense. Often times, minors in possession of alcohol have been able to acquire alcohol by use of false identification. If you are found in possession of a fake Identification, your criminal charges could be a felony or misdemeanor charge. A felony offense carries a third-degree felony charge, which is punishable by up to five years in jail and a $5,000 fine.
Minor in Possession of Alcohol - According to Florida Statute 562.111, it is a misdemeanor in the second-degree if law enforcement officers find alcohol in your vehicle, and you are under the age of 21.
Resisting an Officer Without Violence - According to Florida Statute 843.02, Resisting Without Violence is a first-degree misdemeanor, and a conviction will bring punishments of up to 1 year in jail or 12 months’ probation and a $1,000 fine.
The lawyers at Musca Law have over 150-years of combined criminal defense experience. Our hardworking attorneys provide aggressive and reliable legal representation. If you or your loved one has been accused of a crime, contact our law firm at (888) 484-5057. Our attorneys are standing by around-the-clock to offer you a free, no-obligation initial case consultation to see how our services can best support you and your case.