Driving under the influence is a serious offense that comes with significant consequences for anyone. When it comes to underage individuals, though, the legal landscape is notably different.
For parents helping their underage children navigate the complexities of a DUI charge, it is important to understand how this situation differs from cases involving adults.
Stricter zero-tolerance policies
Pennsylvania enforces a strict Zero Tolerance Law for underage DUI. While adults may drive with a legal blood alcohol concentration limit of .08%, those under the age of 21 will receive harsh penalties if caught driving with a BAC of .02% or greater. The consequences include a 12-to-18-month license suspension, up to six months in jail and fines up to $5,000.
Impact on educational and employment opportunities
An underage DUI conviction can also have long-lasting effects on a young person’s future. Beyond the legal consequences, it may hinder educational and employment opportunities. Many educational institutions and employers conduct background checks, and a DUI conviction can be a red flag that affects admissions or hiring decisions.
Parental involvement and responsibility
Given the age of the individuals involved, parental involvement is often a significant factor in underage DUI cases. The law may hold parents responsible for their child’s actions. Parental liability laws, for example, impose penalties on parents for knowingly allowing their underage children to drive under the influence.
Emphasis on rehabilitation
While punishment is a component of the legal process, there is also a strong emphasis on rehabilitation in underage DUI cases. The goal is not only to deter underage drinking and driving but also to provide resources and support for young individuals to make better choices in the future. Rehabilitation programs may include counseling, educational courses and community service.
Underage DUI cases are similar to what adults might experience in terms of the types of penalties imposed. They are distinct, however, in that practically any blood alcohol content in an underage driver is punishable by law and that parents may face consequences as well.