DUI for Minors in Anne Arundel
Those individuals facing DUI charges that are under the age of 18 are going to be charged in the juvenile court in Anne Arundel County. There, the state is not seeking a finding of guilt, rather it is seeking a finding of delinquency. What the state is going to need to prove the delinquency is still going to be exactly the same as what they are going to need to prove the guilt in a DUI context, but the rules and the procedures are going to be different. The venue is obviously different, and the case will be heard by a judge or by a master rather than a judge.
BAC Limits for Drivers Under 18
The BAC limits for the DUI are exactly the same for under 18 and over 18 drivers, however, most under-18 individuals will also receive the violation of license restriction citation that we discussed previously, because like the under-21 individuals, they have a license restriction that they are not allowed to operate a motor vehicle after consuming any alcohol.
What to Expect from the Process
It is going to be native to the juvenile court, because it will be a juvenile case. There, the process will be a little bit different from the standard DUI. The standard DUI starts out at the district courts and the case only moves to the circuit court if individual requests a trial by a jury. In the juvenile court, there are completely different sets of rules and procedures.
Prosecution of Underage DUI
Cases are prosecuted strongly. Prosecutors are usually unwilling to drop a DUI case, unless they have significant difficulty in proving the case. In terms of sentencing, generally juvenile sentences are slightly less harsh than comparable adult sentences, although probation could be significantly more onerous for juveniles than it would be for an adult.
Students Under 18
For students under 18, our intake process is going to be the same for everyone. It is for most effectively gathering information for any DUI charges—whether it is under 18, under 21 or over 21. The first thing that we do is conduct an interview with the client. We figure out exactly what happened and that helps me in pointing in the direction of potential defenses.
After that, we will review all the documents that the state intends to admit in the trial of the matter, which is called discovery. We will analyze the police reports, any videos for traffic evidence, and the proposed expert testimony. That is the initial process for intake for somebody who is under 21 or over 21.
Hiring an Attorney for Underage DUI Cases
Hiring an attorney in any kind of criminal case is going to be extremely important. When there is going to be a possibility of any kind of incarceration or any kind of permanent criminal records, I think having somebody who knows the laws and who understands the jurisdiction where the case is going to be heard is extremely important. An attorney can challenge a case. An attorney can potentially get an acquittal or finding of not delinquent for the client. Even in cases where an attorney cannot do that, an attorney can still be extremely helpful in presenting mitigation before the court and explaining to the judge why the judge should go easy in sentencing the client rather than giving the maximum possible sentence.
Information for Parents
Again, right from the beginning parent should be aware that they really should speak to legal counsel—somebody who understands both the law and the jurisdiction that the case is heard in. They should expect that their child should attend, at minimum, one court hearing or maybe several, and they should also expect that their child should enroll in alcohol treatment prior to going to court. Then they can also expect that the penalties that we discussed previously—either absolutely no driving or potentially the installation of an ignition interlock in their child’s vehicle—could be introduced.