It is illegal for individuals under 21 to consume alcohol in Minnesota. State law imposes a zero-tolerance drunk driving policy for those who are underage and choose to drink and drive. This means that any amount of alcohol could result in a drunk driving charge for an underage person, even a very small amount.
If you were arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) while underage, it is critical that you get in touch with a seasoned attorney as soon as possible. A Minnesota underage DUI lawyer could help you understand your options and move forward with your defense.
Understanding Underage DWI Laws
In Minnesota, a driving under the influence (DUI) charge is officially called a driving while intoxicated (DWI) charge. State law prohibits most drivers from driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08. For underage drivers, however, the legal alcohol limit is 0. This concept is laid out under Minnesota Statutes § 169A.33, commonly referred to as the zero-tolerance policy or the “Not-a-Drop” law.
Driving under the influence is not the only alcohol-related charge that an underage individual might face. Those under the age of twenty-one are not allowed to:
- Drink without the permission and supervision of their parents or legal guardians
- Buy or attempt to buy alcohol
- Possess alcohol with an intent to consume it
- Misrepresent their age in order to buy alcohol
Many of these actions precede a DWI charge and are commonly charged alongside it.
Penalties for Breaking Underage DUI Laws
Violating the underage DUI laws is a misdemeanor and can carry different penalties based on the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of the driver and their age. All drivers under the age of 16 are prosecuted through the juvenile court system, and drivers under 18 with a BAC of less than .08 will also be prosecuted as juveniles. Penalties through the juvenile system could include fines, jail time, and license suspensions.
Drivers aged 16 or 17 will be tried as adults if their BAC exceeds the legal limit of .08 at the time of their arrest. This could result in a jail term of up to ninety days and a maximum possible fine of up to $3,000. A license suspension of 180 days could be included. This suspension period might increase to 360 days if there was another minor in the car.
Those with DWI charges often must buy high-risk insurance as well, which can be expensive. It is crucial for anyone facing an underage DWI charge to retain the services of a knowledgeable Minnesota attorney. By working with a skilled legal professional, a defendant could be able to avoid the harshest outcomes of a DUI charge.
Defending Underage DUI Charges
There are many possible defenses against underage DWI charges. Some potential defense strategies include:
- Challenging accuracy of the breath test
- Challenging officer testimony
- Contesting accuracy of field sobriety tests
- Filing a suppression motion based on constitutional violations
These defenses and many others that may be available could make a major difference in a person’s case. An underage DUI lawyer could help a defendant in Minnesota understand which defenses might be useful given the unique facts of their case.
Discuss Your Case with a Minnesota Underage DUI Attorney
An underage DUI case can derail your life and cause you significant hardships. You could face losing your freedom and the right to drive. If you or your child are facing charges of this nature, do not hesitate to consult with a committed legal professional about your options. A Minnesota underage DUI lawyer at BK Law Group could assess your case and work with you to build a tailored defense. Set up a free consultation today to get started.