Being charged with driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI) is always a serious matter. However, when a driver is underage, the law takes the violation even more seriously than for adult drivers, and punishments could be enhanced accordingly.

If you are under 21 and were arrested for a DUI offense, your best next step is to get competent legal representation immediately. An Edina underage DUI lawyer could help you mitigate the penalties associated with these charges and pursue a favorable outcome on your behalf.

Zero Tolerance Applies to Underage Drivers

The legal limit for alcohol for most drivers is a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08. However, for drivers who are not yet of legal drinking age, Minnesota Statute § 169A.33 sets the limit at 0. Underage drivers who are caught with any amount of alcohol in their system will be prosecuted, although proceedings vary depending on the driver’s age and BAC.

Youngest Drivers Handled Through Juvenile Court

Any driver who is under 16 will be prosecuted through the juvenile court system. A driver under 18 years of age whose BAC is under .08 also will face charges in juvenile court.

Despite being handled through the juvenile system, penalties for convictions are severe and could include jail time, fines, and license suspensions of at least 30 days for a first offense and 180 days for a subsequent offense.

Adult Court if BAC Exceeds .08

A 16 or 17-year-old driver whose BAC exceeds the adult legal limit of .08 will face charges in regular criminal court, despite their age. They also risk the same DUI penalties as an adult. An underage licensed driver convicted of DUI will face a minimum 180-day license suspension for a first offense.

These individuals also face the possibility of up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. As with adults, these penalties could increase if the driver refused a test, had a BAC in excess of .16, or had a passenger younger than 16 in the car at the time of their arrest. Getting into an accident that caused injuries or leaving the scene of a crash also could subject a young driver to enhanced penalties. Because of the extreme consequences for Edina minors accused of driving under the influence, it is crucial to retain seasoned legal counsel in these cases.

Vanessa’s Law Restricts Driving Privileges

Under a law called “Vanessa’s Law,” unlicensed drivers under the age of 18 who are convicted of a moving violation or DUI cannot obtain a driver’s license until they turn 18. Underage drivers with a permit or provisional license who are convicted of a DUI must serve a license suspension, pay a license reinstatement fee, retake all written and on-road driving tests, and hold a permit for at least six months.

Vanessa’s Law can lead to especially harsh consequences for younger drivers accused of driving under the influence. A knowledgeable Edina attorney could explain this law in more detail and help a minor driver avoid the harshest penalties associated with a conviction.

Discuss Your Case with an Edina Underage DUI Attorney

A DUI conviction stays on an individual’s record forever. A conviction could impact their ability to participate in certain extra-curricular activities, affect their admission to institutions of higher learning, limit future career opportunities, and potentially influence the path of the rest of their life.

An Edina underage DUI lawyer understands the repercussions and will do everything possible to limit them, given the particulars of a specific case. If you or your child is facing charges for driving under the influence, schedule a consultation with a dedicated member of our legal team today. We could help you understand your situation and your legal defense options.