GETTING A DUI UNDER 21 YEARS OLD
Just because you are under 21 does not mean that you cannot be arrested for a DUI. Furthermore, if you are under 21, you are treated differently than a person with a regular DUI. Often times, prosecutors will treat people arrested for a DUI under 21 harsher than that of a person over 21. Prosecutors look at this crime as more offensive than a regular DUI because a person under 21 should not be drinking, as they are under the legal drinking age of 21.
We recognize that a person under 21 years of age has full life ahead of them. You may be looking to enroll in college or start a new job. The last thing you need is the stigma of DUI following you around for the rest of your life. To the contrary of the position of many prosecutors, we believe that because you are young and made one bad decision the rest of your life should not be ruined. Our goal is to negate and minimize any impact a DUI may have on your life. Colleges and the workforce alike are ultra-competitive, and the last thing you need is an additional obstacle to make it even harder.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A DUI AND DUI UNDER 21?
It is illegal to drink alcohol while you are under the age of 21. As such, the state of Florida has made a zero-tolerance approach toward drinking and driving while you are under 21. If you are caught drinking and driving with a breath alcohol level of above .02, your license will be suspended for six (6) months. This is different from a regular DUI, where there is a license suspension if you blow a breath alcohol level above .08. The other penalties for a regular DUI and a DUI are under 21 are very nearly identical.
HOW LONG WILL YOUR LICENSE BE SUSPENDED FOR A DUI UNDER 21?
As with any regular DUI, a DUI under 21 can have a criminal court suspension and an administrative (department of highway and safety motor vehicles) suspension.
The administrative suspension takes effect if you blow over the legal limit or you refuse to provide a breath, blood or urine sample. The legal limit for a regular DUI in the state of Florida is .08. However, if you are under 21, you are not allowed to have an alcohol level of above a .02. If you blow a breath or blood alcohol level over .02, then your license will be suspended for six (6) months. On the other hand, if you refuse to provide a breath, blood or urine sample then your license will be suspended for twelve (12) months if this is your first refusal and eighteen (18) months if this is your second refusal.
The criminal court suspension for a DUI under 21 ranges from six (6) months to permanent, but the length of the suspension is dependent up factors including if is this is your first DUI, second DUI, third DUI, or fourth or subsequent DUI.
It is important to keep in mind that the criminal court suspension and the administrative suspension are two separate processes. One has not bearing on the other and vice versa.
CAN YOU GET A HARDSHIP LICENSE FOR A DUI UNDER 21?
Yes, you can obtain a hardship license for a DUI under 21.
HOW DO YOU GET A HARDSHIP LICENSE FOR A DUI UNDER 21?
The process to obtain a hardship license for a DUI under 21 will be the same process for a regular DUI.
WHAT IF YOU HAVE A FAKE ID ON YOU WITH A DUI?
The possession of a fake ID in the state of Florida is a third-degree felony. This means that in addition to a felony conviction, it is punishable by up to five (5) years in prison. This very well may be a more serious criminal charge than the DUI. However, since it is a felony charge, the process is different than the process of misdemeanor DUIs. As a felony, an intake prosecutor reviews all the new felony arrests and determines the appropriate charges to file. We have been successful in the past convincing intake prosecutors to down-file this felony charge to an equivalent fake driver’s license charge that is a misdemeanor. If you find yourself arrested for possession of a fake ID, a DUI defense lawyer can be a powerful and effective ally in avoiding felony charges.
HOW WILL A DUI UNDER 21 EFFECT YOUR LIFE?
Aside from any effect on your life from the criminal court system and on your driver’s license, the biggest impact will be on your car insurance rates. Car insurance for young adults are already extremely expensive. If your car insurance finds out that you’ve been arrested for a DUI under 21, then your premiums are going to drastically increase. It is even possible that your car insurance will drop you from coverage. This direct impact makes it imperative to have the right attorney on your side fighting to beat the charges or get them reduced.
WILL YOU BE KICKED OUT OF SCHOOL FOR A DUI UNDER 21?
Many people that are arrested for a DUI under 21 are in college. Every school has their own student handbook with rules that all the students are expected to abide by and follow. It is usually a given that a DUI under 21 will constituted a violation of school rules. However, usually under these rules there is some due process that is given to the students that the school must follow before imposing any discipline. We have experience representing students at colleges at these disciplinary proceedings. We can help you navigate through these difficult times so that a DUI arrest does not affect your education.
WHAT IS DIVERSION AND CAN YOU GET DIVERSION FOR A DUI UNDER 21?
Diversion is a special program that, if you qualify for, the charges you were arrested for can be broken down to lesser charges. You may be eligible for diversion in a DUI case, but it depends on what county you are arrested in. Some counties such as Palm Beach county and Miami-Dade have diversion programs for DUI arrests. If you have no prior criminal record you may qualify for diversion. There are other factors that diversion programs examine such as if there was an accident and the alcohol level to determine eligibility.
At Keller, Melchiorre & Walsh, we have three former prosecutors that handle DUI defense. As former prosecutors, we know what prosecutors try do and how the process works. We have firsthand experience in trying to help young people under 21 through this lengthy process. Call us if you need an aggressive DUI lawyer to fight for your rights.