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How Do Maryland Prosecutors and Judges Treat Underage DUIs?

A Maryland DUI lawyer answers questions about DUI charges and cases where the driver is under 21 or under 18 years old.

Where Are Maryland DUIs For Drivers Under 18 Heard?

They are not heard in the same place. So adult court for a first-time DUI offender 18 or older has original jurisdiction in a District Court of Maryland, which is where most misdemeanor matters are heard.

When somebody is a juvenile (under 18) and they’re charged with a DUI offense, they are going to be participating in what are not called criminal proceedings but what are considered juvenile proceedings. They take place in the juvenile court system which is a branch of the Circuit Court. The Circuit Court is, generally speaking, reserved for very serious offenses, felony offenses in particular, when it comes to adult court.

When it comes to Juvenile Court, because of the sensitive nature of these kinds of cases, there is a branch of the Circuit Court that is committed to assisting juveniles with resolution of these matters.

How Do Prosecutors and Judges Treat Underage DUI Cases?

Obviously judges know that the younger that an individual is, the less responsible that person might be for his or her actions. Courts are well aware that young people experiment with alcohol and don’t always make the best decisions when it comes to alcohol. So judges want to get through to younger individuals just how serious this kind of activity is primarily because they do not want them coming back to court on more DUIs or perhaps even more serious charges simply be aware they are not taking this first brush with the law seriously enough.

The penalties you can expect for a young person’s case are things like community service, participating in extensive alcohol education programs, and perhaps even a loss of their license. This can have an impact on a young person’s life that might seem unfair to them, but these are very effective tools that the court can employ to make sure that young people don’t come back to the court system again with more DUIs or more serious criminal offenses.

Does Maryland Prosecute Underage DUIs Strongly?

The cases are prosecuted very strongly. Again, the prosecutor’s office has the same interest that the court’s office has, particularly with young people. It’s nobody’s intention with young people, particularly when it’s their first offense, to try and make an example out of them in any way. Instead, what the court is really trying to do is make sure that these young people learn lessons from what has happened so nothing like this takes place again.

Working with a DUI Attorney

When the future of you or your teen hinges on how underage DUI charges are handled, it’s important to go into the legal process supported and well-informed. This is why working with a DUI attorney in Maryland who has experience working with minors is extremely important. Contact our law offices to learn more about how our attorneys may be able to help you.