If your child is tried and convicted of a DUI while on spring break in Florida, it will stay on their criminal record for the rest of their lives. This is a serious consequence of what was probably a one-time stupid mistake. You might be tempted to leave your child to the mercy of the criminal justice system to teach them a valuable lesson, but we don’t recommend doing that.
As angry as you are as a parent, we urge you to consider the impact this will have on your child’s future. By hiring the best possible Florida juvenile DUI defense attorney that you can afford, you could open the door for your son or daughter to make positive changes in their life. On the other hand, a conviction could mean that opportunities for jobs, education, and independence are taken away for good.
Penalties for Underage DUI in Florida
Unlike drivers of the legal drinking age, Florida has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to underage drinking. That means that if someone under the age of 21 is found to have even a trace amount of alcohol in their system, they could be charged with a DUI, regardless of whether they were showing signs of impairment by driving erratically. Officially, a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .02 is enough to charge an underage driver with a DUI.
Penalties for underage DUI include:
- BAC of 0.02 – 0.08. If this is your son or daughter’s first DUI offense, their driver’s license may be suspended for six months. For a second offense, the suspension will be for a year.
- Breath test refusal. If your child refuses to submit to a sobriety test, they will face additional penalties. For a first refusal, the driver’s license suspension is 12 months. For a second or subsequent refusal, the period of suspension is 18 months.
- BAC of 0.08 or above. If your child is intoxicated according to the rules that apply to legal drinkers, they will face the exact same sanctions that an adult would face for a DUI, including possible jail time.
If your child is under the age of 18, they will appear before a judge in juvenile court. However, even though you still think of them as a child, an 18-year-old is, in fact, an adult and will appear in adult court and face adult sanctions for DUI.
What Can You Do to Help Your Child With an Underage DUI in Florida?
You allowed your child to go to Florida with their friends for their high school or college spring break, and now you are trying to figure out what to do after receiving that fateful phone call—“Mom, I got a DUI.” As a criminal defense lawyer in Florida who regularly defends juveniles, we suggest that you take the following steps:
- Advise your child to say as little as possible. You will probably be on the receiving end of your child’s first call. If your child is under 18, law enforcement should not talk to them without a parent being present. If they are over 18, advise them to agree to the breathalyzer and to tell the police that they will not talk without their lawyer present.
- Call a local Florida attorney. Call an experienced DUI lawyer who takes juvenile cases. If they can take your case, they will get to the police station quickly to represent your child.
- Get to Florida. Hop in the car or book a flight. Trust us—your child is scared enough as it is. There is no need to make them deal with this alone or to wait for days before getting to them.
- Listen to your child’s lawyer. Once your child’s lawyer has heard the whole story, they will begin to build the best possible defense. Depending on how the arrest happened, your child’s behavior, and other factors, your lawyer will consider a variety of defense strategies. You can help your child by following their lawyer’s advice.