While many children go through a reckless or rebellious phase, you may have never expected your child to drink and drive. Your child may be a teenager who is still living at home or your child could be a young adult who has gone off to college. Either way, your child is not yet 21 years old, which may leave you with numerous questions regarding the possible consequences for your child’s actions.
Are all drunk driving charges the same?
When authorities catch someone driving while intoxicated, he or she can receive one of several possible charges, depending on the specific situation. Some factors that may impact someone’s charges, include: what intoxicant caused the impairment, how impaired the person was and the person’s age.
What is the Zero Tolerance Law?
Drinking and driving is dangerous for anyone, but the legal limit is different based on someone’s age. For someone who is at least 21 years old, .08 is the legal limit, even though drunk driving charges can apply with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) as low as .05. However, someone who is under age 21 violates the Zero Tolerance Law with a BAC as low as .02. This can mean that even one drink can be too much.
Even though a BAC as low as .02 can result in penalties, the exact penalties your child may face depend on the BAC authorities recorded. If your child’s BAC is between .02 and .07, police may charge him or her with “driving after having consumed alcohol.”
Someone who breaks the Zero Tolerance Law faces penalties, such as:
- $125 civil fine
- Six months of suspended driving privileges
- $100 fee to terminate the suspension
Does my child’s BAC matter?
If your child’s BAC was between .05 and .07, authorities can choose to charge him or her with a more severe crime. Police could charge your child with Driving While Ability Impaired by Alcohol” (DWAI). This can result in a fine between $300 and $500, 15 days in jail and at least six months without driving privileges.
A BAC between 0.7 and .08 usually results in DWAI charges, and a BAC over .08 usually results in Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) charges. A DWI offense may be punished with a fine between $500 and $1,000, one year in jail and at least six months without driving privileges.
If authorities caught your underage child drinking and driving, you might think it is best to let your child experience the full force of the law. However, most youth do not realize what their rights are, and without help, he or she could receive overly harsh punishments. Often, young people who made mistakes have an easier time getting back on track when someone can help them pursue fair legal outcomes.