What are the Virginia Penalties for Minors Who Commit DUI?
Even though the legal drinking age is 21 years old in Virginia, certain underage minors consume alcohol anyway and even drive under the influence (DUI) thereafter. Given that underage minors are prohibited from consuming alcohol, Virginia law features a zero tolerance approach to underage drinking and driving.
Underage DUI Laws in Virginia
Code of Virginia Section 18.2-266.1 provides the laws against underage DUI. Under this section, it is unlawful for any minor under the age of 21 to consume alcohol and operate a motor vehicle. More specifically, it qualifies as an underage DUI if an offender registers a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.02 to 0.08, which is also the adult limit.
Underage DUI Penalties in Virginia
Section 18.2-266.1 also details the penalties for underage DUIs. Any minor under the age of 21 who violates this section is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. Upon conviction, the underage offender will face mandatory:
- Driver’s license forfeiture for a period of 12 months; and
- Criminal fines of at least $500; or
- Community service for a minimum of 50 hours.
As noted previously, underage DUIs only concern BAC levels below 0.08, which is the threshold for adult DUIs. If an underage minor registers a BAC of 0.08 or more, they can face criminal charges for adult DUI instead.
Adult DUI Laws in Virginia
Code of Virginia Section 18.2-266.1 establishes the laws governing adult DUIs. Under this section, it is unlawful to operate a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol, drugs, or a combination of substances. If a person registers a BAC of 0.08 or more — or loses the ability to safely operate a vehicle due to alcohol or drug consumption — then they are guilty of DUI under Virginia law.
Adult DUI Penalties in Virginia
Code of Virginia Section 18.2-270 describes the penalties for adult DUIs. Under this section, a first or second offense is typically punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor. If convicted, a DUI offender usually faces a mandatory minimum of five to 20 days in jail and $250 to $500 in criminal fines.
If a person commits three DUIs within a 10-year period, however, the offense becomes a Class 6 felony. If convicted at that level, a DUI offender usually faces a mandatory minimum of 90 days to 12 months in prison and $1,000 in criminal fines.
In addition to the criminal penalties outlined above, an adult DUI conviction also triggers mandatory suspension of driving privileges under Code of Virginia Section 18.2-271. The typical suspension period is between 12 and 36 months for DUI offenders; although, in certain cases, a DUI offender can face lifetime revocation of driving privileges.
Contact Us Today for Help
If you have legal questions about underage or adult DUI in Virginia, it can be decidedly helpful to contact an established criminal defense attorney. The Virginia DUI defense attorneys at Simms Showers LLP have defended clients against criminal charges in thousands of trials, including DUI cases. If you need legal help with criminal defense, contact us today for a free initial consultation.