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Understanding and combating underage DUI charges

On Behalf of | Sep 23, 2021 | DUI Defense |

Throughout Illinois, there are a great many activities for people under 21 to take part in. Since college has restarted and the sporting event schedule – college and pro – is full and in the coming months is set to grow, there is an irresistible temptation for young people to head out and enjoy themselves. Part of that might include drinking underage. Some may get behind the wheel of an automobile after they have been indulging in alcohol. Those who believe they can do this without facing consequences are often mistaken. Law enforcement is vigilant about pursuing alleged DUI cases and there are specific penalties assessed to people under 21 if they are convicted. Because the consequences can hinder their future, it is imperative to understand the charges and to forge a viable defense.

What is Zero Tolerance in Illinois?

It is against the law for anyone under 21 to have even a trace of alcohol in their system. This is part of the Zero Tolerance Law. Simply being behind the wheel with even a minuscule amount of alcohol in the system will result in a 21-year-old’s driving privileges being suspended. This is entirely separate from the normal DUI laws in which a driver generally must register a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 for a DUI charge. When an officer stops an underage person for any reason, a request can be made for a chemical test if there is a reasonable belief that the driver was drinking. If alcohol is found, the license is immediately suspended.

With Zero Tolerance, a conviction will have even harsher penalties. The driver’s license can be suspended for at least two years. To get the driver’s license back, the underage driver must compete a remedial education program to be allowed to drive. The officer can charge the underage driver with both Zero Tolerance and DUI, based on the investigation. For a first offense, there will be a three-month driver’s license suspension if the BAC is above zero. A second offense will result in a yearlong suspension. In some instances, the underage driver might function under the mistaken impression that he or she has the right to refuse a test when requested to submit to one. That is not the truth and can result in a six-month suspension for the first violation and a two-year suspension for a second violation. A first-offense DUI conviction can result in a two-year revocation of driving privileges. A second conviction can result in a five-year revocation.

Fighting Zero Tolerance charges is important for the future

People who have a Zero Tolerance DUI charge against them will not only face the potential penalties detailed here, but it can have a negative impact on their entire future. It is natural for younger people to act first and think about problems later. Many might make the mistake of committing an alcohol violation and be charged under Zero Tolerance. If this happens, it is important to understand that they have rights. These charges can be questioned if, for example, there was an issue with the investigation or the testing procedures were flawed. Having assistance from the beginning is a vital step that can address these charges and help with seeking a positive result.