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Underage DUI

Underage DUI in Florida occurs when a someone younger than 21 (the legal minimum drinking age) is accused of driving under the influence of alcohol. The law allows for certain enhanced penalties when an allegedly impaired driver is under 21 and holds them to a more stringent standard.

While the per se limit of alcohol impairment in Florida is 0.08 grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood, per F.S. 316.193, those under 21 may face license suspension and fines for having a BAC of a mere 0.02, per F.S. 322.2616. A person who is under 21 with a BAC of 0.08 or higher could face charges under both statutes. A college or high school student charged with DUI in Florida may also face disciplinary penalties at school.

At The Ansara Law Firm, our Fort Lauderdale DUI defense attorneys recognize know the impact these charges can have on young people. Some parents may be inclined to let their teens or college-age children face it alone, chalking it up to a “lesson learned.” The problem with this is the fact these charges can have a lasting effect on a youth’s future.

We are dedicated to helping young people preserve their future and fight against unfair charges and harsh penalties.

Administrative Suspension for Persons Under 21 With BAC 0.02 or Above

Florida law permits law enforcement officers with probable cause to believe a person under 21 is driving (or has “actual physical control”) of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol can:

  • Lawfully detain the youth;
  • Request they submit to a breathalyzer or blood test to ascertain their bodily alcohol level.

If their blood-alcohol level is between 0.02 and 0.07, it is a violation of F.S. 322.2616, which imposes an administrative license suspension. This is not a traffic infraction. It’s not a criminal offense. Being detained for this offense doesn’t constitute as an arrest. However, it can greatly impair the young person’s ability to commute to and from school and work, and will remain part of their driving record. Additionally, it can result in higher insurance premiums (something parents are often keen to avoid).

The suspension goes into effect immediately.

The length of the suspension will depend on one’s prior record and BAC level. The prescribed penalties per the FHSMV are as follows:

  • First offense – 6 months’ suspension
  • Second or subsequent offense – 1 year
  • First suspension refusal to submit to breath test – 1 year
  • Second or subsequent suspension for refusal – 18 months
  • BAC of 0.05 or higher – Suspension stays active until youth completes a substance abuse evaluation and education course.

If the youth has a BAC of 0.08 or higher, the per se limit for adults 21 and over, they will also face the penalties as described in F.S. 316.193, which include for a first offense (assuming one’s BAC isn’t over 0.15 and there was no crash):

  • A fine between $500 and $1,000;
  • Up to 6 months in jail;
  • Potential ignition interlock requirement;
  • Potential requirement of alcohol and/ or substance abuse treatment.

Higher punishments will be imposed for higher BAC levels, as well as prior convictions and crashes that result in property damage or serious injury or death.

Fighting Administrative Suspension

For those under 21 charged with a violation of F.S. 322.2616, the officer will seize the driver’s license and in return provide a temporary driving permit. That permit will be valid for just 10 days.

The young driver can (and should) request a hearing with the Bureau of Administrative Reviews, a branch of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Witnesses may be required to attend and submit to questioning under oath by your DUI defense lawyer.

If you do not request a hearing within those 10 days, the youth will no longer be allowed to drive, until the requirements of F.S. 322.2616 are met. Parents who are mulling whether to hire legal counsel for their child after the incident should understand that there may be nothing stopping them from imposing their own driving restrictions, particularly if they are in control of the young person’s vehicle, car payments or insurance. However, an administrative suspension of this nature can result in a spike to your own insurance costs, not to mention it may remain on your child’s driving record.

If you have been arrested for DUI in Fort Lauderdale, call The Ansara Law Firm today for your free initial consultation at (954) 761-4011.

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