For a minor in Georgia, a DUI arrest can quickly turn the world on its head. The state of Georgia has a “zero tolerance” policy regarding juvenile DUI. Consequences are harsh, even for a first time offender, and there are special rules that apply to under 21 DUI that are even more rigid than Georgia’s other DUI laws. The state will encourage you to plead guilty, but it is important to consider both the immediate and the long-term impact a DUI conviction will have on your life.

What is a juvenile DUI?

The state defines a minor as someone under 21 years of age. If you are under 21 years old, it is illegal to operate any motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of .02 grams or higher. This means that a minor does not need to be intoxicated in order to be guilty of a DUI. Although an adult can have a blood alcohol concentration of up to .08 grams before being considered legally intoxicated, it is illegal for a minor to consume any alcohol, making even a BAC under .08 grams proof of a crime. The law includes a margin of error to account for the fact that breath tests are not guaranteed to be accurate when dealing with quantities of this size.

Criminal penalties for DUI under 21

DUI penalties for juveniles in Georgia are far from lax. A minor may face 24 hours in jail, 12 months of probation, and 40 hours of community service. During the probation period, you will generally be required to check in with your probation officer at least once a month, which can cause issues if you are working or are attending school in another state. You will also be subject to random alcohol and drug tests or risk violating your probation and going back to court. It is also mandatory to complete the 20-hour Georgia Risk Reduction Program (also known as DUI school). In addition to these penalties, you will be fined no less than $300, not including fines and surcharges. The fine is usually closer to $1500, plus the additional costs of programs, testing, probation fees, and license suspension fees.

DUI license suspension

Especially strict restrictions come into play when a minor has their license restricted for a DUI. The Georgia Department of Driver Services will suspend a minor’s license for six months if their BAC is tested at .02-.08 grams or if law enforcement did not administer a test. If their BAC tested over .08 or the minor refused to submit to a chemical test, their driver’s license will be suspended for twelve months. In both cases, these are “hard” suspensions with no limited privileges given. This means that you cannot drive at all during the course of the suspension, not even to school or to work. The last thing you need when you are unable to drive are additional commitments, but probation check-ins, community service, and DUI School are all required.

Lasting effects of juvenile DUI

The immediate consequences of fines, jail time, community service, license suspension, and more are hefty punishments, but a DUI conviction has an impact that lasts long past driving privileges are reinstated and probation is completed. The state of Georgia does not allow DUI charges to be expunged. This means that if you are convicted of a DUI, it will be on your criminal record forever, and you must disclose the charge on college or job applications. This may affect the acceptance decisions of colleges you have applied to; if you are already in college, a DUI may cause you to lose scholarships and impact your ability to participate in extracurricular activities. Many companies are reluctant to hire someone with a DUI on their record. Even as a minor and a first time offender, a DUI conviction will follow you for the rest of your life.

Cumming Georgia DUI Attorney

The special rules, restrictions, and penalties that accompany juvenile DUI make it all the more important to seek the counsel of an experienced juvenile attorney in Cumming, Ga. No one is automatically guilty, and there are always options besides taking the guilty plea without a fight. When a conviction has the potential to make such a major impact on your life, you owe it to yourself and your future to explore all the possible alternatives for your defense. A talented defense attorney will help you to protect your rights and achieve the best possible outcome in court.