Teenagers and drunk driving are a serious problem across the country. That’s why many states, including Tennessee, provide that a driver under 21 can be charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI) if their blood alcohol content (BAC) is .02 or more. (For adults, the limit is .08 or more.)
The best protection for your teenage is to speak with an experienced Franklin DUI lawyer as soon as your child is arrested. There may be defenses. Your lawyer may be able to have the charges dismissed based on a lack of admissible evidence. A skilled criminal defense attorney may also be able to negotiate a plea bargain to less serious charges.
Parenting steps to reduce the risk of DUI
Parents need to educate their children about the dangers of driving even after just one drink. They should explain how harmful a DUI conviction is. Parents should avoid having alcohol within easy reach of teens or better still, avoid having alcohol in the house, during their teen’s driving years. Parents should understand what school programs are available to educate and impress on teens the dangers of drunk driving.
You may need to obtain an evaluation as to whether your teenager just wasn’t thinking or whether he/she has a substance abuse problem. Some teenagers think they’re being “adult” when they drink; Other teens may already have developed a dependency. Your job as a parent is to make sure they get the help they need as soon as possible. If your teen is still drinking and driving despite your best efforts, some professional counseling for your child may be advisable.
How can an experienced DUI defense lawyer help?
We’ll assert every possible defense on your child’s behalf. Some of these defenses include:
- Contesting the basis for the stop. The police need reasonable grounds to believe your child was driving while intoxicated
- Contesting the way the field sobriety and breath tests were administered. Police must follow specific procedures.
- Contesting the validity of the testing equipment. Breathalyzers need to be inspected on a regular basis.
What are the penalties for underage DUIs in Tennessee?
In Tennessee, there is a zero-tolerance policy for minors, which essentially means almost any trace of alcohol in your child’s system will result in a DUI charge and possibly a conviction. If your teenage driver is under 18, then your child will be brought before the juvenile court of the county where you live.
If your child is convicted as an adult, the penalties for a first-time offense are:
- A jail sentence of 48 hours up to 11 months and 29 days
- A fine from $350 to $1,500
- Suspension of the driver’s license for one year
- Court fees, which can be substantial
Convictions for subsequent offenses carry harsher penalties.
If your teen refused to take a breath test, your child may be ordered to install an ignition interlock device (IID) on any vehicle he/she drives. A judge can also require an IID as part of the DUI sentence.
A skilled juvenile lawyer will explain the consequences if your child who has DUI is under 18-years-of-age.
Additional consequences for a teenage DUI
A DUI can affect your child in many other ways, too. A DUI can affect educational scholarships or even admission to college, or cost your child his or her job. If your son or daughter owns a vehicle, the insurance premiums will skyrocket. If the DUI leads to an accident that damaged another person’s car or injured/killed another person, there could be additional penalties, including charges of vehicular assault or homicide, or the costs associated with a civil lawsuit.
Get peace of mind. If your child has been charged with a DUI, a skilled and respected criminal defense lawyer can make a large difference. At the Law Offices of Adrian H. Altshuler & Associates, we’ve successfully obtained dismissals and plea negotiations in many cases. We understand the unique challenges and concerns when representing teenagers. To discuss your son’s or daughter’s DUI charges, please call our office at 615-977-9370 or use our contact form to make an appointment. We represent teens and defendants in our Tennessee locations in Franklin, Columbia, and Brentwood.