Driving under the influence, whether it's alcohol or drugs, is a serious crime for anyone – especially for minors. The charges and punishments differ in many ways than they do for adults convicted of DUI. Read on to find out what you can expect and the choices you have if you are a minor charged with DUI.
Understand the charges
Charges can be much more severe for minors compared to adults, for the simple reason that there are more crimes to charge a minor with. Not only is there the actual DUI charge, which may also be paired with a reckless driving charge, but there are also charges for underage drinking. If there is an accident or a fatality, there are also the added endangerment or manslaughter charges. You could even be charged with things like child endangerment if there were other minors in the car with you, or with distributing alcohol or a controlled substance to minors.
Know the repercussions
Being underage doesn't excuse you from mandatory jail sentences. Depending on the state, you could end up spending a few days to a year or more in jail or a juvenile facility. Even if jail isn't the consequence, probation certainly will be. This can limit your ability to find work or even to go away for college after you graduate from high school. Fines, loss of your license, mandatory curfews, and community service are also common repercussions.
Be aware of long-term consequences
You may think that once your time is served and probation is over that you will be home-free. Unfortunately, this is not the case. A DUI conviction can often be a felony, which means it can remain on your record into adulthood. This can limit your college and career prospects, since some jobs – like education – aren't generally open to felons. You must list your DUI on college applications, which could also affect your acceptance.
Work to mitigate the problems
Fortunately, one mistake doesn't have to ruin your future. Begin by being proactive. Turn your focus back toward school in the weeks leading up to your court date. It's also a good idea to voluntarily enter an outpatient treatment program. This can help you sort through your own issues that lead to the DUI, plus it shows the court that you are working to change for the better. Also, consult with an experienced DUI attorney that can help lead you through the process and work in your interest.
For more information and details, talk with a DUI lawyer in your area, such as those at Mesenbourg & Sarratori Law Offices.