Defending Underage DUI Accusations in Alexandria, VA & DC
Alexandria, VA and Washington, DC laws strictly prohibit driving under the influence and driving while intoxicated. Drivers under the age of 21 who are caught operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs may face mandatory minimum fines and the loss of driving privileges, which can impact their ability to work or attend school.
If you have been charged with an underage DUI in Alexandria, VA or the District of Columbia, contact our skilled DUI defense lawyer at S.L. England, PLLC right away. When you do, we will evaluate your situation and guide you through your legal options to help you understand what you’re up against.
Blood Alcohol Concentration for Under 21 Drivers
Although some high school and college students drink alcohol, Alexandria, VA law strictly prohibits anyone under age 21 to operate a motor vehicle while they have any amount of alcohol in their system. While a person over age 21 cannot have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above 0.08% to legally drive, a person under age 21 cannot have a BAC of 0.02%, or else they may be charged with DUI.
In DC, however, there is a zero-tolerance policy for people under 21 to consume alcohol, especially in cases where they operate a motor vehicle while intoxicated. Like in Alexandria, VA, the BAC limit for drivers who are 21 and older in DC is .08%, but unlike Alexandria, VA, the BAC limit for people under 21 is 0%. This means that people under 21 in Washington, DC may get a DUI charge if chemical tests detect any measurable amount of alcohol in their systems.
What are the Penalties for Underage DUI in Alexandria, VA & DC?
Immediately upon your arrest for underage DUI or a reasonable refusal to take a breath test, your driver’s license will be administratively suspended for seven days in Alexandria, VA. The judge may grant you a restricted driver’s license, which allows you to drive to authorized places at designated times, but you must be enrolled in an Alcohol Safety Action Program to get a restricted license.
If convicted of an underage DUI in Alexandria, VA, you will get a Class 1 misdemeanor charge punishable by a one-year driver’s license suspension and a mandatory minimum fine of $500. You will also have to perform 50 hours of community service and get six demerit points added to your Alexandria, VA driving record.
Keep in mind that Alexandria, VA has an implied consent law, meaning that if you choose to operate a motor vehicle, you have given your consent for law enforcement to take a breath or blood sample from you if they have probable cause to do so. Failure to provide a breath or blood sample results in a one-year driver’s license suspension for a first offense and prohibition from applying for a restricted license. For a second offense within 10 years, this becomes a Class 1 misdemeanor charge, which is separate from your underage DUI charge in Alexandria, VA.
In DC, anyone under 21 who has a BAC above 0% will get the following DUI penalties upon conviction:
First Violation: DUI charge with up to 180 days imprisonment, a fine up to $1,000, and
license suspension for six months.
Second Violation (Within 15 years): DUI charge with up to one-year imprisonment, a fine up to $5,000, and license suspension for one year.
Third Violation (Within 15 years): DUI charge with up to one-year imprisonment, a fine up to $10,000, and license suspension for one year.
On top of an underage DUI charge, people under 21 in DC may get added charges for purchasing, possessing, or drinking an alcoholic beveragein the District. This is a misdemeanor offense punishable as follows:
- First violation: A fine up to $300 and suspension of driving privileges in the District for 90 consecutive days
- Second violation: A fine up to $600 and suspension of driving privileges in the District for 180 days
- Third and each subsequent violation: A fine of not more than $1,000 and suspension of driving privileges in the District for one year
Defenses to Underage DUI Charges
Each underage DUI case is different, and an experienced attorney can craft a defense that best fits your situation. Remember, being charged with an underage DUI does not mean you are guilty. As such, when you retain our lawyer to defend your accusations, we will challenge every detail of your charge.
Challenging the Basis of the Stop
Law enforcement officers in Alexandria, VA and DC cannot stop your vehicle unless they have reasonable suspicion that you have violated a law. You could be stopped for a minor traffic offense, such as having an expired registration or an equipment violation, or you could show signs of impairment such as weaving, speeding, driving too slowly, or sitting at a green traffic light.
Since many law enforcement vehicles are equipped with dash cameras, our lawyer will review any videos from the traffic stop to determine if the officer had a valid reason to stop your vehicle. If the reason for the initial traffic stop is invalid, then any evidence resulting from that stop must be suppressed, which can lead to a reduction or dismissal of your underage DUI charges.
Challenging the Chemical Test Results
Law enforcement officers must follow strict collection, testing, and chain of custody procedures with any breath or blood samples you provide. Any failure to follow exact procedures could result in your sample becoming contaminated, therefore your sample would not yield a legally sufficient test result. Thus, our underage DUI lawyer can challenge the collection method and instruments used to obtain your sample, and the chain of custody.
Mouth Alcohol Testing
If you take a breath test, the breathalyzer may register mouth alcohol even though you did not drink an alcoholic beverage. Sources of mouth alcohol include mouthwash or some asthma medications. If you suffer from Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), you could also get a false positive on a breath test.
Further, breathalyzers test alveolar or deep lung air for alcohol content, so if the law enforcement officer does not observe the 15 minute waiting period before administering the breath test, your result could be tainted by mouth alcohol.
Retain our Top-Rated Underage DUI Attorney in VA & DC
Although an underage DUI does not carry any jail time, if convicted, you could lose your driver’s license, which has a significant impact on your future. Your finances could suffer if you are unable to drive to work, and you could lose your opportunity for higher education if you are unable to drive to school. With these facts in mind, you should not take the legal penalties lightly.
If you have been charged with an underage DUI in Alexandria, VA or Washington, DC, you need a dedicated lawyer from S.L. England, PLLC, to build an aggressive defense for you. Call us today at (202) 759-2333 or contact us online.