Underage DUI Penalties in Montgomery County
The penalties for an underage DUI in Montgomery County are generally the same as the penalties for a normal DUI. The main complicating factor of an underage DUI is the penalties associated with breaking the rules associated with a restricted license.
Anyone who is under 21 may not be found with any blood alcohol in their system during a traffic violation. Driving with even the slightest presence of alcohol is a violation of the restrictions on an underage person’s driver’s license. The license violation is a separate criminal charge that carries separate criminal consequences, the possibility of incarceration, and points in addition to the penalties associated with driving under the influence or impaired by alcohol.
Juvenile Court Process
When somebody is under the age of 18, they can be charged as a juvenile, which means their case is not handled in the district court where DUI cases are usually handled. Instead, underage DUI cases are heard in the juvenile division, a branch of the circuit court.
In a special hearing room, a juvenile judge listens to information about a case to determine how best to proceed. When there is a sufficient amount of evidence to support a conviction, the judge may take liberties away from the defendant. Both parties, the state and the defense, may call witnesses to testify. A judge then decides whether the government met their burden of proof that the juvenile was involved in the alleged criminal act.
Judges in juvenile court often focus on rehabilitation as opposed to jail time, and they may order alcohol education, community service, and similar programs to resolve matters at the juvenile level.
Effects of an Underage DUI Conviction
An underage DUI can impact an individual’s future in many ways. A conviction appears on applications for jobs, professional licenses, college applications, graduate school applications, and any number of other essential documents. There may also be additional consequences like jail time and the potential loss of a license.
It is important to have an attorney who can put forward the best defense possible to keep defendant’s record clean.
In many underage DUI cases, there are opportunities to avoid penalties through an alternative sentencing option. Judges frequently offer community service in place of a more severe penalty like incarceration. Probation is usually an alternate option, as are alcohol education and treatment programs. The options vary on a case-by-case basis. It is important that a defendant in an underage DUI case speaks with an attorney who has familiarity with the court system and knows how to best negotiate with prosecutors for an optimal outcome.
An attorney who is familiar with the court system and the prosecutors may advise their client on the best course of action to mitigate the consequences of an underage DUI. A lawyer may recommend that a defendant take an alcohol education class, for example, to demonstrate to the court that they are taking the charges seriously. A criminal defense attorney could also work with prosecutors to establish a plea deal and mitigate the consequences of underage DUI penalties in Montgomery County.