underage dui

Virginia’s “Zero Tolerance” Law for Underage DUI

For overage drivers, the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is anything below 0.08%.  However, for anyone under the age of 21, the BAC limit is significantly lower. Virginia calls this law the “zero tolerance” law for underage drunk driving. Law enforcement takes these cases very seriously, but there are ways to present a strong defense if you face underage DUI charges.

Our Manassas DUI lawyers are ready to help. We represent clients of all ages who face DUI and DWI charges. Our team is ready to protect your constitutional rights and create a strong defense for you.

Virginia’s Zero Tolerance Law

The phrase “zero tolerance” might make you think that any amount of alcohol in your system automatically violates the law. This is not quite the case. For any person under 21, the BAC limit is 0.02% or higher. This is an extremely low amount of alcohol in the blood, and this concentration could occur with as little as one drink. 

This reflects the Commonwealth’s zero tolerance policy towards underage drinking and driving. Those under 21 are not permitted to drink anyway, so are treated especially strictly when they do so and choose to drive. Many prosecutors are overzealous in pursuing this zero tolerance law, and may overcharge or mischarge cases in these situations.

Penalties for an Underage DUI in Virginia

An underage DUI is typically a Class 1 misdemeanor. If convicted, you could face penalties such as:

  • Immediate suspension of your driver’s license for up to one year
  • Mandatory fine of at least $500 up to a maximum possible fine of $2,500
  • Community service hours
  • Probation supervision
  • Payment of court costs and fines
  • Attendance at an alcohol safety education program
  • Use of an ignition interlock device

If your BAC was 0.08% or higher, you could face the same DUI penalties as an adult charged with the offense. These are even more serious penalties in several ways, especially for repeat charges. Speak to a qualified DUI defense attorney to learn more about what you face.

Collateral Consequences of an Underage DUI

In addition to the criminal penalties you face, there are often collateral consequences as well. These consequences can affect many areas of your life. They might include the following:

  • Restricted licenses
  • Higher insurance rates following a DUI
  • Violation of school or university policies that might lead to school sanctions
  • Related criminal convictions for underage possession or fake IDs
  • Loss of employment or inability to get certain jobs in the future

Defending Against Underage DUI Charges

Just because you are charged with an underage DUI does not mean there is no hope. In fact, several legal defenses exist that may help you reduce or dismiss the charges against you. This will depend significantly on your individual circumstances.

Potential underage DUI defense include, but are not limited to:

  • You did not consume any alcohol or drugs
  • Challenging the blood or breath tests
  • Challenging the accuracy of the field sobriety tests
  • Cross-examining the law enforcement officer’s observations
  • Filing a suppression motion after an illegal traffic stop

An experienced Virginia underage DUI attorney can analyze the specific facts of your case and customize a legal defense for you. Every situation is different, and you want an attorney who cares about the unique situation you face.

Defend Against Underage DUI Charges in Virginia

Fight back against underage DUI charges with the help of our skilled DUI defense lawyers at Battlefield Law Group PLLC. We know the unique challenges you face after these accusations and how best to defend your legal rights. Our compassionate and experienced attorneys take your case seriously and do everything we can to protect you.

Contact us today for a free consultation.