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What are the penalties for underage drinking and driving?

As a new school year begins in Virginia, teens will be reunited with friends and perhaps be together at social events or other locations where alcohol might be available. This might lead to the temptation to drink while under the legal age to do so. In some instances, an accident or a traffic stop may occur leading to allegations of underage drinking and driving. Those who find themselves in position need to understand the law so that they can craft a criminal defense that best protects them.

People under 21 are not allowed to drive after having consumed alcohol regardless of the level of alcohol present in their bloodstream. This is because a person under 21 is not supposed to be drinking in the first place. If there is a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.02 percent or more in the system, it will be a violation. This is a Class 1 misdemeanor. Class 1 misdemeanors carry with them the potential penalties of jail for up to one year, a fine of up to $2,500, or both.

There are other penalties that a juvenile can face if they are convicted. A minor who is convicted of this offense will forfeit his or her driver's license for one year from the date of conviction. There will also be a minimum fine of $500 or the requirement to perform at least 50 hours of community service. The penalized individual might be allowed to take part in an Alcohol Safety Action Program as part of probation and could receive a restricted license while the driver's license is suspended.

Being convicted of underage drinking and driving can have long-term consequences of which juveniles must be aware. With so much at stake, it is important that juveniles who are accused of this offense have full protection under the law with help from a defense attorney experienced with cases involving underage drinking and driving.

Source: " 18.2-266.1. Persons under age 21 driving after illegally consuming alcohol; penalty.," accessed on Sept. 10, 2017

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