A common question fielded by legal experts includes “What is the penalty for a teenage dui?” In short, the answer to this question will be subject to a number of case and state-specific laws, meaning the penalties in a given case will vary based on state laws, and in certain cases, the age of the offender and the case-specific elements of the offense.
For the most part, every state has some form of “Zero Tolerance” laws in place concerning minors operating motor vehicles under the influence of alcohol. Under these laws, minors (persons under the age of twenty-one (21)) are guilty of violating zero tolerance laws if found driving with a BAC ranging from above .00 to above .02, with state laws varying. These offenses are not DUI, OWI, DWI, or OUI offenses, but depending on the state, may carry criminal penalties.
Should a minor offender be charged with DUI, meaning the offender possessed a BAC above the legal limit of .08 or is convicted of driving under the influence other substances, he or she will face the same penalties as an adult, if charged as an adult. What this means, in general, is that offenders over the age of eighteen (18) in most states will face the same penalties in a DUI case as their adult counterparts, while also be subject to Zero Tolerance laws applicable to persons under twenty-one (21). Penalties for adult DUI cases will vary widely from state to state and from case to case.
Offenders under the age of adulthood, which can vary from state to state, will be charged as juveniles. The juvenile court system is vastly different from the adult court system, and in turn, the process for determining and enforcing penalties is vastly different. For more information and insight into the potential penalties faced by an underage DUI offender, including for insight into how to craft a viable legal defense emphasizing the need for rehabilitation, it is imperative to consult with a DUI lawyer in your state.