If your child has been arrested and charged with driving under the influence (DUI) and is under the age of 21 years old, the penalties can be severe. Pennsylvania has strict laws for underage DUI and even the first offense means serious consequences for your child. As a parent, it is important to understand what is at stake for an underage DUI conviction and what steps you can take after your child has been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Pennsylvania Underage DUI Penalties
The legal drinking age in Pennsylvania is 21 years old, and the consumption of any alcohol by anyone under that age is illegal. The penalties are even more serious if an underage drinker gets behind the wheel. Under the law, if a person under the age of 21 years old has a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.02% or higher, they can be arrested for DUI. The penalties for a first time offense include up to 90 days in jail, a fine between $300 and $500, and a 12-month driver’s license suspension if the BAC was 0.10% or higher. For a second offense, the consequences are even more serious. A second conviction for underage DUI comes with a jail term between five days and six months, fines between $300 and $2,500, and a mandatory license suspension of one year.
In addition, most insurance companies will terminate your policy or refuse to renew it after an underage DUI. Other insurers may raise the rates of your insurance by a couple of hundred dollars per month for coverage. Your child will also have to fill out the necessary forms after the license suspension is over to get his or her license reinstated. If your child is in high school or college, there may also be some educational punishments in the form of suspension or expulsion for a conviction of underage DUI.
What Should a Parent do After the Arrest?
The most important thing that you can do for your child after he or she has been arrested for underage DUI is call an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. A knowledgeable defense attorney will be able to protect your child’s rights and ensure that no statements are made against his or her best interest while talking with the police or in the hospital. Check to see if your child needs medical treatment for alcohol poisoning or other injuries, and if necessary, take him or her to see a medical professional. Speak with a lawyer about any potential diversion programs or other opportunities to avoid a DUI conviction on your child’s record. Depending on the circumstances of the case, your child may qualify for one of these programs, or the evidence may be so weak that the lawyer can get the charges reduced or dismissed.
Call a Lawyer Today
If your underage child has been arrested for driving under the influence in Pennsylvania, call or contact the Martin Law Firm today to discuss your legal options.