It’s no secret that many under 21 consume alcohol, whether it be an act of rebellion or due to peer pressure. While this is dangerous in and of itself, this becomes more harrowing when these teenagers and young adults get behind the wheel after a night out. In many instances, these youths feel like they won’t get caught, or if they do, they’ll receive nothing more than a warning. However, this is far from the truth in Illinois. The following blog explores what you must know if charged with an underage DUI and how a Peoria DUI lawyer can assist you during these challenging times.
In Illinois, like most other states, any individual under the legal drinking age of 21 with any amount of alcohol in their system while operating a vehicle can face a DUI. This is because these individuals are prohibited from drinking alcohol, so even a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.01% can warrant criminal charges.
For those under 21, there are specific laws for these circumstances. In Illinois, these are referred to as Zero Tolerance laws. Generally, if someone is found with alcohol in their system for the first time, this warrants a three-month license suspension. In the event a driver under the age of 21 refuses a breathalyzer test, this will warrant a six-month revocation of your license.
It is important to note that generally if someone under 21 has a BAC of 0.08% or higher while behind the wheel, they can face full DUI charges. This includes a two-year suspension of driving privileges, the installation of an ignition interlock device, and an alcohol counseling program.
Additionally, many are not aware of the implications these charges can have on their lives. Not only can a license suspension hinder your ability to get to work, putting you at risk of losing your job, but you must also pay hefty fines.
The penalties for an underage DUI are severe, as they aim to act as a deterrent for repeat offenders.
In the event you are charged with Zero Tolerance or a DUI when under 21, you may be able to employ different defenses with the assistance of an experienced attorney. The first possible option is to challenge the legitimacy of the traffic stop. Generally, the officer must have reasonable cause to believe you are under the influence to pull you over. For example, an officer cannot simply wait near a bar parking lot to pull over anyone who drives away.
Additionally, you may be able to prove the breathalyzer device was broken, improperly calibrated, or incorrectly administered, or that the officer did not conduct the test properly.
If you are facing criminal charges for a DUI and you are under 21, it’s imperative to contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible. Unfortunately, these charges can follow you for the rest of your life. As such, working with Giraudo Law to achieve the best possible outcome for your circumstances is crucial. Reach out to our team today to learn how we can fight for you.