- Dispute Resolution Gold Coast Australia
Submitted by: Michael D. Leader
Facing a DUI at any age can be life changing. Facing a Florida DUI when you are under 21 has particularly harsh consequences both short term and long-term.
You do not need a Ft. Lauderdale DUI attorney to tell you that it is illegal for any person under the age of 21 to drink. However, you do need a Fort Lauderdale criminal attorney if a Florida minor combines drinking and driving. A Florida DUI for an individual under 21 can result in serious sanctions, including jail time, fines, court costs, community service and a license suspension. Even more devastating can be the long term costs of a juvenile Ft Lauderdale DUI increased insurance premiums and potential limitation of future employment opportunities. Additionally, a student may be suspended or expelled from high school or college.
It is estimated that 23% of teen drivers ages 15 to 20 who die in fatal car accidents have a blood alcohol level of .08 percent or higher. Compounding the problem, 30% of teenagers admit riding in the car with a minor who has been drinking during the last month.
We have all seen the gruesome headlines in the Fort Lauderdale newspapers about multi-car crashes involving underage drivers. In fact, in response to the increasing number of juvenile DUIs, Florida passed a zero tolerance policy in 1997 for young people under the age of 21 who drink and drive. The zero tolerance law provides for an administrative suspension of the driving privilege of any driver under the age of 21 who is found to have a blood or breath alcohol concentration (BAC) of .02 or greater. The .02 limit really means juveniles under the age of 21 cannot have a single drink and drive.
If you are under 21 and your BAC is measured above .05 percent, you will be subject to more severe penalties including the requirement that you complete a substance abuse treatment course. Additionally, law enforcement in the state of Florida does have the option to charge an underage drinker for minor consumption of alcohol or minor in possession of alcohol if the driver registers a BAC of .02% to .07%. These criminal charges will be on top of the administrative action imposed under the zero tolerance laws.
And if you re a juvenile under 21 with a BAC of .08 percent or above, the sanctions just keep getting worse.
Drivers under the age of 21 with a blood alcohol level of .02% or more will have their license immediately suspended for six months, unless this suspension is challenged within 10 days. This administrative action is for a first offense; a second offense will result in a one year suspension. Refusal to submit to breath, blood or urine testing (first offense) results in a suspension of twelve months or eighteen months on a second offense.
There are some rules that apply before the Florida zero tolerance law can be applied. An underage driver must be stopped through a lawful contact, either a traffic stop related to a violation, contact at a sobriety checkpoint, contact at a crash site or consensual contact with the driver. In other words, the police officer must have reasonable suspicion for a detention and probable cause for an arrest.
Under Section 322.2616 of the Florida Statutes, a DUI officer in Broward County, FL, can request that any driver under the age of 21 submit to a breath test, urine test, or blood test if the DUI officer has probable cause to believe the driver is impaired or under the influence by alcohol or drugs (they need not believe the impairment to be the legal limit of .08 but even anything above a .02). Simply smelling alcohol on the driver’s breath after a traffic stop coupled with any other indicator of impairment (i.e. red, bloodshot or watery eyes, flushed face, etc.) is often sufficient for further detention and investigation that may lead to the juvenile or under age of 21 driver s suspension and arrest.
If the driver declines the arresting officer’s request for a chemical test, or if the breath test reading is .02 or higher then an automatic administrative suspension will occur unless an administrative hearing is requested within the specified to invalidate the suspension. That request for a formal review hearing must be made in writing within the 10 days after the arrest of the under age 21 driver in Ft. Lauderdale, FL or the applicable county where the arrest and/or suspension was made. If the required hearing is not timely requested after the DUI arrest and/or suspension or if the driver does not prevail after the formal review hearing to invalidate the administrative suspension, then the following suspension will occur for any person under the age of 21 who took the breath test and blew over the .02 legal limit:
First under age 21 DUI Suspension: Six (6) months; o
Second or subsequent under age 21 DUI suspensions: Twelve (12) months.
If the juvenile and/or under age driver refused to take a breath, blood or urine test following the arrest for DUI and the officer had the right to request the specific test, then the driver will face the following penalties administratively in addition to potential criminal sanctions as well.
First under age 21 DUI Suspension: Twelve (12) months;
Second or Subsequent under age 21 DUI Suspension: Eighteen (18) months.
In certain DUI cases, if a driver under the age 21 blows over .05 they may be subject to additional punishments including a requirement that the driver’s license suspension remain in effect until the driver completes a substance abuse evaluation and treatment course along with other penalties.
Let s face it. Getting around in South Florida is not an easy task without a driver license. It is hard enough to get around taking care of your own needs let alone finding time to drive your juvenile or under 21 children to school, work or other activities.
And this is where a juvenile DUI lawyer will be invaluable. An experienced Ft. Lauderdale DUI attorney will make sure an administrative hearing is held to have the juvenile DUI charges either dismissed or potentially reduced. This hearing gives the DUI attorney a chance to review all the legal and procedural aspects of the case in order to try to avoid the painful ramifications the Florida DUI case imposes upon those who can successfully challenge their case. YOU ONLY HAVE 10 DAYS FROM THE ARREST AND/OR SUSPENSION TO CHALLENGE THE LOSS OF YOUR DRIVING PRIVILEGES. Do not delay and contact an experienced DUI defense attorney to begin strategizing a DUI defense. For instance:
Was the stop legal?
Were the officer s observations of your intoxication accurate?
Was the field sobriety testing valid?
Were any technical errors made?
Was the equipment used a permitted device in compliance with all applicable regulations
These are just a few of the questions an experienced DUI lawyer will ask while assembling a Florida DUI juvenile defense. Very few laws are ironclad; most are subject to interpretation. A good juvenile DUI defense attorney will know the loopholes in both the zero tolerance laws and the juvenile DUI laws that can lead to mounting a vigorous defense. If not, a Ft Lauderdale DUI conviction can haunt a juvenile for the rest of his/her life.
About the Author: Our Fort Lauderdale criminal lawyers will fight for you against a wide range of criminal defense offenses, including DUI, drug crimes.