Does Virginia Have Separate Laws For Underage DUI?
Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of substances is a serious criminal offense in Virginia. In addition to the standard charges that adults can face for drunk driving, Virginia has separate legal provisions for underage minors who commit DUI. As underage minors are not legally allowed to drink alcohol, they normally face separate DUI charges in Virginia.
What is Underage DUI in Virginia?
The state laws against underage DUI appear at Code of Virginia Section 18.2-266.1. This section makes it unlawful for any person under the age of 21 years old to operate a motor vehicle with a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) more than 0.02. Any person who violates this section is guilty of underage DUI under Virginia law.
It is vital to note that underage DUI only applies to minors who operate a motor vehicle and register a BAC of more than 0.02 but less than 0.08. The BAC threshold of 0.08 applies to adults as well as minors. As a result, any minor who drives and registers a BAC of 0.08 or more can face the same DUI charges and penalties as an adult.
What is the Penalty for Underage DUI in Virginia?
The Virginia penalties for underage DUI also appear under Section 18.2-266.1. Typically, underage DUI is charged as a Class 1 misdemeanor. The maximum Virginia punishment for this class of misdemeanor includes $2,500 in criminal fines and a 12-month jail sentence.
Concerning underage DUI, specifically, there are mandatory minimum penalties under Section 18.2-266.1. Any person who commits underage DUI in Virginia must either:
- Pay a minimum fine of $500; or
- Complete at least 50 hours of community service.
In addition, underage DUI offenders will lose their driver’s license for a period of 12 months. Though during this period, the offender may be eligible for a restricted driving permit by completing an Alcohol Safety Action Program.
Can Underage Minors Face Regular DUI Charges?
As briefly noted above, underage minors can face regular DUI charges. Any person who operates a motor vehicle with a BAC of 0.08 or more — including underage minors — will face the same DUI charges as an adult under Code of Virginia Section 18.2-266. The penalties for a violation can escalate dramatically.
On the first offense, DUI in Virginia is punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor under Code of Virginia Section 18.2-270. There is a mandatory minimum of $500 in criminal fines and, in some cases, five to 10 days in jail. A first-offense DUI also results in 12 months of driver’s license suspension.
If there is a second offense within five to 10 years, a regular DUI remains a Class 1 misdemeanor in Virginia. The mandatory minimum penalties, however, increase to $500 in criminal fines, 10 to 20 days in jail, and 36 months of driver’s license suspension.
Do You Need Legal Help?
If you have legal questions about underage or adult DUI charges under Virginia law, contact the Virginia DUI defense attorneys at Simms Showers LLP. Our team of legal professionals will begin mounting a thorough offense on your behalf.