Teens make mistakes. Everyone knows this, but the law still has a specific age at which it begins to see a person as an adult. At 18, a teen is no longer a minor, and he or she could be tried as an adult for driving under the influence. In fact, because the teen is not legally allowed to drink until the age of 21, there are additional penalties he or she could face. What can you do as a parent who sees this situation before you? A strong defense is a good place to start.
Teens drink: How much is too much?
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism estimates that, by the age of 15, 35 percent of teens have had at least one drink. By 18, around 65 percent of teens have. It's no surprise that teens try alcohol at a young age. Sometimes, it's within the safety of their homes with a guardian nearby. Other times, it's at a bar or with friends.
In Florida, teens driving with a blood alcohol concentration of .02 or higher may be detained for driving under the influence. On a first offense, the teen faces a driver's license suspension of six months. If the teen refuses to take the breath test, he or she faces a suspension for one year. On a second or subsequent refusal, the teen can lose his or her license for up to 18 months.
Is driving under the influence as a teen a criminal offense in Florida?
Fortunately, driving under the influence as a teen is not a criminal offense when a person is under the age of 21. If the teen is taken into custody, it's considered detainment. This is not the same as an arrest. The suspension the teen faces begins immediately, and if the breath or blood test comes back as 0.05 or higher, the teen must take a substance abuse evaluation and course.
The suspension stays active until the course's completion. A teen may receive a temporary permit to drive that is valid for 10 days. The officer issues this permit after the detainment. The permit is legal 12 hours after the detainment.
Will Florida law allow for hardship licensing?
If the teen requires a license due to hardship without one, he or she may request a hardship license after a first offense DUI. Florida law does not allow hardship reinstatement for those who have violated state DUI laws a second or subsequent time.
If your teen faces these penalties, your attorney can help. There may be alternatives to these penalties or the ability to question the detainment and charges.