Underage drinking in the United States is a crime that almost all citizens commit at least once in their lives, even though the legal drinking age in the United States is common knowledge to all citizens. While most citizens are not ever caught, or charged, with underage drinking, many teenagers and 20-year olds are arrested for DUIs every year in Illinois. Because of Illinois' Zero Tolerance Law, this can be a large and permanent mark on your criminal record and driving record, that will follow you for the rest of your life. This can affect future jobs, such as commercial truck driving or driving school or public transportation vehicles, and can result in years without the ability to drive.
If you or your child has been charged with underage drinking, you will need an experienced DUI and criminal defense attorney on your side. The penalties for underage drinking and driving in Illinois are extremely harsh, and there is not much relief from these penalties without an experienced attorney on your side. Our DUI defense attorneys we know that many people cannot live their daily lives while dealing with years-long suspension of driving privileges, and we will do everything we can to defend every client we can, and help them reach the best possible outcome for their case.
What is Illinois' "Zero Tolerance Law"?
Illinois is one of several states to have a Zero Tolerance Law for underage drinking and driving, as well as driving with any type of illegal drugs in your system. What this means is that even if you are far below the legal BAC limit, you will still face penalties, and you can still be convicted of a DUI. This law is extremely harsh and for good reason. Drinking and driving is extremely dangerous no matter what age you are, but severe penalties for underage drivers are proven to prevent repeat DUIs in underage drivers and even prevent first-time DUIs in underage drivers who have seen friends or classmates deal with underage DUI convictions.
For first-time underage offenders with a BAC over .00, this means a 3-month suspension of driving privileges. For underage offenders with a BAC over .00 with previous offenses, this is an automatic 1-year suspension. If you refuse field testing, this is an automatic 6-month suspension for first-time underage offenders, and a 2-year automatic driving suspension if you have prior violations.
Underage drivers can also be convicted of DUIs, on top of Zero Tolerance, and face up to 2 more years of loss of driving privileges for first-time offenders. A 5-year drivers license suspension will be awarded to underage drivers convicted of more than one DUI in Illinois.
Can I Get My Driving Privileges Back?
Unlike a normal DUI, it is much more complicated for underage drivers convicted of DUIs to regain their license. Not only does the state of Illinois require underage drivers to take drinking and driving education courses, as well as simple driving classes, but many times underage drivers will be required to once against performing a DMV-run driving test in order to regain their license.
There is driving relief available for those that qualify. This is normally only available to first-time DUI offenders, and normally involves hefty monthly fees and the installation of a BAIID (Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device) in the perpetrator's car.
What Can I Do if My Child Was Charged With an Underage DUI?
As a parent, it is easy to feel as though you have failed if your underage child is facing criminal charges. It is important to remember that while we all do our best to raise our children to be upstanding citizens, our children have to make their own choices and their own mistakes. It is natural for all people to push their limits, and engage in what they may feel is exciting, dangerous, or taboo behavior.
Like almost all other states, Illinois offers substance abuse treatment to persons of any age. This means that there are alcohol and drug education classes, as well as outpatient rehabilitation facilities, that are available to you and your child if you need them. There are also mental health services available to you and your child at your request.
As parents, it is natural to want to do everything you can to protect your child. It is important to remember that not only do you have to allow your children to make their own choices and their own mistakes, but you must also allow them to face the consequences of those choices and mistakes in order for them to learn and grow as people. Trying to protect them from those consequences can cause them further issues in life, as well as encourage them to continue to make the same mistakes as they may feel as though there are no consequences for their actions.
What to Do After an Underage DUI Arrest
If you are being charged with Zero Tolerance or underage DUI, or you are the parent of someone being charged with Zero Tolerance or underage DUI, hiring an experienced DUI attorney should be your first step. At DUI Lawyers 24/7, we deal with DUI cases in The Illinois Court System every single day and have the real-time knowledge and experience needed to fight for you.
During your initial free consultation, we will discuss the case with you, and give you realistic ideas of the consequences of these actions and the outcome of your case before doing everything we can to build the best possible custom defense for your case. We know that everyone makes mistakes, teenagers more than anyone else as they begin to learn about the world, and that mistakes made in our teenage years should not affect us for the rest of our life.