Miami Underage DUI Attorney
Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious offense at any age; however, if you are charged with a DUI under the age of 21, you face immediate suspension of driving privileges. Because it is illegal to consume alcohol under the age of 21, the threshold for intoxication is much lower for those under 21 than for those of legal age. Underage DUI in the state of Florida can have serious consequences but you still have rights. In the Miami area, the attorneys at Valiente, Carollo and McElligott, PLLC are experienced in defending clients charged with underage DUI, standing up for the rights of the accused, and obtaining the best outcome in each case.
What does it mean to be under the influence?
In the state of Florida, operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcoholic beverages is illegal. For those over the age of 21, state law presumes that anyone with a blood-alcohol level of .08 percent or greater to be under the influence or intoxicated. For those under the age of 21, the threshold is much lower. Anyone 21 and under with a blood-alcohol level of .02 percent or greater is presumed to be under the influence.
What happens during an Underage DUI stop?
If during a routine traffic stop or DUI check a police officer has probable cause to believe you are driving under the influence, the officer may request that you take a blood-alcohol or breath-alcohol level test.
The police officer must have a good reason to believe you are under the influence. The police officer may claim he or she observed you crossing a highway line, running a stop sign, or committing another minor traffic violation. Once an officer pulls you over, he or she may cite the smell of alcohol, bloodshot & watery eyes, slurred speech, or other intoxicated behavior as the reason for requesting a blood or breath-alcohol test.
What if I had been drinking?
If the results of a blood-alcohol or breath-alcohol test are .02 percent or higher or you refuse to submit to such a test, the police officer will take your driver’s license and issue a notice of suspension of driving privileges. The period of suspension varies depending on whether it is the accused’s first or subsequent offense.
The first offense results in suspension of driving privileges for 6 months. A second offense results in suspension of driving privileges for 1 year.
If you refuse to take a blood-alcohol or breath-alcohol test, you are subject to an automatic suspension of your license for 1 year. If you refused to take a blood or breath-alcohol test in the past, you are subject to an 18-month license suspension.
What can I do if I receive a Notice of Suspension?
If you have a blood-alcohol or breath-alcohol level of .02 percent or greater or refuse to take an alcohol level test, the police officer will take your license away, issue a temporary 10-day driving permit, and issue a notice of suspension.
If you received a notice of suspension, you have the right to request a formal or informal review of the notice of suspension by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles within 10 days of receiving the notice.
If you request an informal review, the Department of Highway Safety must conduct an informal review of the notice of suspension within 30 days. The Department of Highway Safety must notify you of the results of the informal review within 7 days.
If you request a formal review, the Department of Highway Safety must schedule a formal review hearing of the notice of suspension within 30 days. You may appear at the hearing and subpoena witnesses to appear. The Department of Highway Safety must notify you of the results of the informal review within 7 days.
You will be granted temporary driving privileges while a formal or informal review is pending.
Will I have to go to rehab?
If the results of your blood-alcohol or breath-alcohol test are .05 percent or greater, your driver’s license will be suspended until you complete a substance abuse course approved by the Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles. Your driving privileges will not be restored until you have completed a substance abuse course.
If you are under 18 and have a blood or breath-alcohol level of .05 percent or greater, the police officer may take you to an addiction treatment facility.
Will an underage DUI go on my record?
In many cases, the answer to this question is up to the discretion of the police officer and your age. If you are between 18 – 20 year of age, although it is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to drive after consuming any amount of alcohol, if your blood-alcohol level is below .08 percent, Florida law does not impose criminal penalties. The only punishment is the suspension of driving privileges. If you are a minor – under 18 years, at most you may end up with a juvenile record and much less serious consequences, which can be expunged in the future.
If your blood-alcohol level is .08 percent or above, you are considered legally impaired and are subject to criminal punishment. Penalties for a first offense include a fine of between $500 and $1,000 and up to 6 months in prison.
You may also be criminally charged for other alcohol-related offenses stemming from a police stop, such as being a minor in possession of alcohol, possession of a fake ID, or providing alcohol to minors. Any criminal charges may go on your record, although if you are under 18 that record may not be public and may be possible to seal or expunge in the future.
Defenses to an Underage DUI
When the Department of Highway Safety reviews a notice of suspension, it considers all the evidence against you to determine whether you were operating a motor vehicle under the influence. The evidence must show that you were driving a vehicle under the age of 21 with a blood-alcohol or breath-alcohol level of .02 percent or greater or refused to submit to such a test.
Depending on the facts, you may be able to refute the evidence of blood or breath-alcohol by showing the person administering the test failed to follow established procedures for performing such a test.
Additionally, the evidence must show that the police officer involved had probable cause to stop you and require you to submit to a blood or breath-alcohol test. In the case where a DUI arrest resulted from a traffic stop, pointing out an officer’s mistakes in stopping a vehicle can lead to dismissal of charges based on an illegal stop.
Consult with an Experienced Underage DUI Defense Attorney
The attorneys at Valiente, Carollo and McElligott, PLLC understand that people make mistakes when they are young and those mistakes can harm bright futures. That is why our DUI defense attorneys work diligently to defend our clients. Contact our Miami area criminal defense attorneys to discuss your case today.