A juvenile driving under the influence (DUI) conviction is no less life changing than an adult DUI. The penalties and consequences can make it difficult for a juvenile to move on with normal life and leave the conviction behind as an adult. While juvenile convictions and penalties are meant to be more rehabilitative than punitive, they can still take a toll on the defendant’s personal and professional life. Here’s what you might expect following a juvenile DUI.
The Trial – Potential Juvenile DUI Defenses
The best way to prevent a juvenile DUI is to not drink and drive – especially while underage. However, upon receiving the charge, it’s best to hire a defense attorney for assistance in the subsequent trial. A skilled DUI defense attorney may be able to prevent or reduce the penalties for an underage DUI conviction. There are several potential defenses one could use to get out of a juvenile DUI, including:
- You weren’t driving. According to the law, you can only receive a DUI if you were operating a vehicle (this includes a bicycle in Pennsylvania) at the time the police pulled you over. If you were merely sitting in your vehicle but not driving, you may be able to successfully fight your DUI charge.
- The arresting officer broke protocol. One of the most common DUI defenses is to prove the police officer who arrested or detained you made a mistake. For example, he/she did not have probable cause to make the stop or did not use proper legal procedures during arrest. In these situations, the courts may rule any evidence from the arrest “inadmissible” in court, resulting in dropping your case altogether.
- The evidence against you is not credible. This is a difficult defense strategy to take and may only work if you have hard evidence that contradicts the evidence the arresting officer has, such as video footage or testimony from a highly credible witness. This defense might be appropriate if you appeared sober while driving or if you have a medical condition that could explain why you failed a roadside DUI test.
A successful defense could lead to the courts dismissing your case and never having to worry about what happens following a juvenile DUI. In these delicate situations, your fate could rest in the competence of your defense attorney. Choose wisely to maximize your chances of reducing the penalties against you. When facing a hearing date or a trial in front of a judge or jury for juvenile DUI, always enlist the help of a skilled attorney in West Chester.
The Sentence – Consequences for Juvenile DUI in Pennsylvania
According to Pennsylvania Statutes Title 75, Section 3802, those under the age of 21 convicted of a DUI in the state of Pennsylvania will face minimum penalties of a $500 fine (plus court costs) and driver’s license suspension. For a first-time offense, the minor will lose his/her license for 90 days; for a second offense, one year; for third and subsequent offenses, two years. If the minor did not have a valid driver’s license at the time of the conviction, he or she will not be able to apply for one until the end of the terms of the suspension.
Maximum penalties for a juvenile DUI escalate to two days in jail, fines of up to $5,000, loss of license, alcohol treatment programs, and required participation in an alcohol safety school. Under Pennsylvania’s Zero Tolerance laws, to receive a juvenile DUI, a driver only has to have a blood alcohol content level of 0.02% or higher. This is the equivalent of just one drink or less. Pennsylvania does not tolerate underage drinking and driving, and the legislature for the state designs consequences to minimize the odds of repeat offenders.