Winter Is Coming
Every year, as Fall ends and the jack-o-lanterns and candy merge into pumpkin spice and candy canes, there is an inevitable surge in parents calling the SZL team to consult about alleged underage crimes – especially DUI. It could be:
- the increase in celebrations; or
- the stress of the holidays; or
- the fact that it gets dark at 4:45 pm;
… but like clockwork, the season of kids getting in trouble is once again upon us.
An Underage DUI Conviction Can Change Everything. Here’s Why.
Surprisingly, the number one question we get from concerned parents about underage alcohol-related crimes is, "Will this be worse because he/she is underage?" The short answer is "Yes." First off, despite alcohol (a toxic poison) being celebrated in our society as if it is G-d's gift to humanity, and drinking and driving a little bit being legal, all DUI cases are heavily prosecuted.
However, it's a double whammy when a person cannot legally drink, they do, and then they take the extra step to drive illegally. While we all know that most adolescents try alcohol far before they are 21, most prosecutors operate in a prism where they see this conduct as shocking.
Moreover, when a person who is 21 and older gets charged with a DUI offense, civil consequences can range from a six-month to one-year license suspension for breath readings of .08 and over or for refusal of a breath test, on a first offense.
An underage person, however, has a license restriction that will trigger an additional year of possible license suspension for blood alcohol concentration as low as .02 (virtually undetectable amounts). This is on top of the possible one year in jail they may be facing and the possible conviction that could alter the course of a young person's future.
One of the most unfortunate things about living in America, aside from the fact that poison is peddled to the masses during Superbowl commercials with puppy dogs and Clydesdale horses, is that our lives are often dictated by the decisions we make when we are at our most immature, I.e., getting a misdemeanor conviction at 17 years old means one could be branded with a scarlet letter that may:
- prevent admission to college; or
- prevent advancement in the first stages of employment; or
- cause restrictions to getting specific professional licenses; and
- much more.
The number one rule for all people, irrespective of age, should be to avoid driving after having even one sip of an alcoholic beverage. However, suppose the ever-present trend of young people getting charged during the holidays becomes a reality for you or a loved one. In that case, you must consult with a lawyer immaterially to avoid missing deadlines and, most importantly, miss taking the necessary steps to attempt to prevent a record that may last a lifetime.
If you or a loved one is arrested for DUI in Howard County, your friends that defend are here to help. Contact Shapiro, Zwanetz & Lake at (410) 927-5137.