Anyone under the age of 21 is prohibited from drinking alcohol in Florida, although many young people drink anyway. A person under 21 years of age who drinks and then drives a motor vehicle may find himself or herself arrested for DUI (Driving Under the Influence).
Under Florida Statutes § 322.2616, there is a much lower presumptive level of intoxication for persons under 21 years of age (who are legally banned from drinking) than for persons 21 and older. A person under the age of 21 is considered to be a drunk driver with a 0.02 blood-alcohol concentration level (BAC), while the legal threshold for a person 21 or older is a BAC of 0.08 under F.S. § 316.193.
An Underage DUI or Juvenile DUI conviction may lead to severe penalties imposed by both the courts (up to six months in jail and a fine of between $500 and $1,000 for a first DUI conviction) and the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHMSV), which may suspend a person’s driver’s license. High school or college students who are either charged with DUI or convicted of DUI may face disciplinary hearings and possible sanctions from their school.
Melbourne Underage DUI Attorney
If you were charged with Underage DUI or a similar offense in Melbourne, Florida, or the surrounding communities of Brevard County, FL, then you should contact an experienced local criminal defense attorney who focuses on DUI cases.
Time is fleeting in a DUI case, because after a DUI arrest, a person only has 10 days to demand a formal review hearing to contest an administrative driver’s license suspension. An administrative suspension is a serious penalty that may impose adverse consequences in the future — so it is imperative that you consult with a qualified DUI attorney as soon as possible.
A DUI attorney knows how to contest an administrative driver’s license suspension. A skilled DUI lawyer will also know how to investigate and attack all the aspects of a criminal DUI charge and fight for a reduction or dismissal of charges.
At Law Offices of Germain & McCarthy, we are experienced in representing drivers under the age of 21 who are charged under Florida’s DUI laws. We have successfully defended many underage clients accused of DUI in court, at administrative license revocation hearings, and at academic disciplinary hearings.
Law Offices of Germain & McCarthy represents clients throughout Brevard County, including the cities of Palm Bay, Titusville, and Merritt Island, the South Beach communities of Melbourne, Satellite Beach, and Indian Harbour Beach, and people who reside in neighboring Volusia, Indian River, Osceola, and Orange counties.
Call Law Offices of Germain & McCarthy at (321) 253-3447 today to schedule an appointment to discuss you case with one of our dedicated DUI attorneys. Your initial consultation is free and without obligation. Let us show you how we can help you protect your driving privileges and your freedom.
Underage DUI in Melbourne, FL and Titusville, FL
Do you know that Florida has more than one DUI law, with an all-encompassing law that applies to persons 21 and older and a specific and much more restrictive law that applies to persons under the age of 21. Under the broader law, Chapter 316, § 316.193(1) of the Florida Statutes, a person is guilty of DUI if the person is driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle and:
- The person has a blood-alcohol level (also called blood alcohol concentration or BAC) of 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood; or
- The person has a breath-alcohol level (BAC) of 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath; or
- The person is under the influence of alcoholic beverages, any chemical substance under Florida Statutes, Chapter 877, § 877.111, or any substance controlled under chapter 893 of the Florida Statutes, when affected to the extent that the person’s normal faculties are impaired
But under F.S. § 316.2616, drivers under the age of 21 are subject to a much harsher DUI law than drivers who are 21 or older. The underage DUI law states that “it is unlawful for a person under the age of 21 who has a blood-alcohol or breath-alcohol level (BAC) of 0.02 or higher to drive or be in actual physical control of a motor vehicle.”
Research proves that after consuming just two normal-sized alcoholic drinks (and in some cases, just one drink), a person of any age and most any weight will eclipse the 0.02 BAC threshold.
If a driver under age 21 has a BAC of 0.05 or higher (which is still far below the legal limit for drivers 21 and older), the penalties are further enhanced.
Penalties for Underage DUI in Melbourne, Florida
When a young person under 21 years of age is charged with DUI, severe penalties may result. A first-time DUI charge is a second-degree misdemeanor in Florida, punishable upon conviction by up to six months in jail and a fine of between $500 and $1,000. Additional sanctions that the court may impose include probation, community service and court costs, as well as a vehicle impound or immobilization for a period of 10 days.
In addition, a person’s driver’s license will be automatically suspended for six months for a first underage DUI charge, or for one year if the driver refuses to submit to a DUI breath or blood test, regardless of whether the case is prosecuted. This type of administrative driver’s license suspension can only be contested by demanding a formal review hearing within 10 days of the arrest.
Even when a young person who is charged with DUI is legally permitted to drive again, the cost of auto insurance is likely to skyrocket. Car insurance premiums are high for inexperienced drivers anyway and a DUI conviction will only make them jump higher.
In addition, drivers under 21 who are accused of DUI are often students in high school or college. A DUI conviction may have a catastrophic effect on students, who may face disciplinary action from a high school or college due to a criminal DUI charge or conviction. Future educational and employment opportunities may also be compromised because a young person elected to drive after having just a drink or two.
The attorneys at the Law Offices of Germain & McCarthy are intimately familiar with the laws pertaining to underage DUI charges and the criminal court procedures in Brevard County and adjacent counties, which could provide a great advantage in resolving an Underage DUI or Juvenile DUI case.
The “10-Day Rule” and Administrative Driver’s License Suspension in Underage DUI Cases
A person of any age who is accused of DUI faces an automatic administrative driver’s license suspension after an arrest. The only way to avoid a suspension is to demand a formal review hearing to contest the suspension.
But due to the “10-Day Rule” in Florida, the request for a formal review hearing must be filed within 10 days of the arrest with the Florida Board of Administrative Reviews (BAR), a division of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV).
If a person accused of DUI hires a DUI attorney within 10 days of an arrest, the attorney will be able to file the request for a formal review hearing. Your DUI lawyer will also fight to obtain a 42-day temporary driving permit for you while working to invalidate the administrative suspension.
For a first-time DUI offense, an administrative driver’s license suspension is six months, with a 30-day “hard” suspension during which no hardship license will be granted. If a driver refused a DUI breath or blood test, the suspension is one year, with a 90-day “hard” suspension.
By law, anyone under the age of 21 with a BAC of 0.05 or higher (which is still much lower than the threshold for other adults) must complete an approved DUI school program before the driver can obtain hardship driving privileges.
Advantages of a Formal Review Hearing
Besides the obvious goal of regaining legal driving privileges as soon as possible, another advantage of going to a formal review hearing is that a competent DUI attorney can subpoena and cross-examine witnesses, including the arresting officer and breath test machine operator.
Fighting an administrative suspension often exposes cracks in the State’s case that could have an effect on the outcome in the criminal case. A smart attorney will explore possible defenses that might be appropriate to deflect some of the allegations in the criminal case before the criminal trial takes place.
An experienced DUI attorney in Melbourne, FL will be able to explain the criminal and civil consequences of an Underage DUI charge, while simultaneously fighting for your rights and your freedom in the courts, with the state’s driver’s license bureau, and with your school.
Possible Defenses against an Underage DUI Charge in Melbourne, FL
From the moment the police or any law enforcement agency initiates a DUI stop, they are required to follow specific rules and protocols. Any deviation from these procedures, during the traffic stop, the arrest, or in conducting chemical tests, may result in the exclusion of evidence, which could lead to a reduction or dismissal of charges.
You need an attorney who knows how to challenge the prosecution’s case on many levels. Your DUI lawyer may be able to challenge police procedures, file motions to suppress or exclude evidence, question the veracity of witness testimony, hire independent witnesses to testify for the defense, and use other legal maneuvers to effectively counter the state’s case.
Florida Statutes, Title XXIII, Chapter 316, § 316.2616 — DUI Driver’s License Suspension for Persons Under 21 Years of Age — Read the Florida Statutes to learn about the definition of Underage DUI and the potential penalties for an Underage DUI conviction in Florida.
Brevard County Sheriff’s Office — Learn about the activities of the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office and find information about arrests and jail visitation, community services, and more. The main county jail location is:700 Park Ave.
Titusville, FL 32780 Emergency Phone Number in All Areas: 911 Non-Emergency Phone Number (North): (321) 264-5100
Non-Emergency Phone Number (Central): (321) 633-7162
Non-Emergency Phone Number (South): (321) 952-6371
5 To Drive — In October 2015, the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) publicized a campaign in which it asked the parents and guardians of teen drivers to discuss with their teens one traffic safety topic each day for five days. These five topics are also the riskiest driving-related behaviors among teens, according to NHTSA, including:
- Alcohol Use
- Texting while Driving
- Seat Belts
- Riding with Extra Teenage Passengers
Attorney for Underage DUI in Brevard County, FL
A DUI charge is serious and can have long-term adverse effects on a person accused of DUI, especially on young persons under the age of 21, who are subject to a much lower legal threshold in determining intoxication than people who are 21 or older.
If you were charged with Underage DUI or Juvenile DUI, or if your son or daughter was arrested on one of these charges in Melbourne, Palm Bay, or anywhere else in Brevard County, Florida, Florida, you should talk to a qualified criminal defense attorney who focuses on DUI cases right away.
The experienced and insightful DUI attorneys at the Law Offices of Germain & McCarthy have a deep understanding of Florida’s DUI laws and use their experience to defend you from injustice.
Law Offices of Germain & McCarthy represents DUI clients throughout Brevard County, including the cities of Palm Bay, Melbourne, Titusville, Merritt Island, and Rockledge, as well as other smaller locales within the county. We also serve clients in neighboring Volusia, Indian River, Osceola, and Orange counties.
Call the Law Offices of Germain & McCarthy today at (321) 253-3447 to schedule a free initial meeting with one of our attorneys.
This article about Underage DUI in Brevard County was last updated on Thursday, March 10, 2016.