What Happens to a Juvenile Caught Drinking and Driving Underage?

In Minnesota, DWI crimes are taken very seriously for adults. As an enhancing crime, those above 21 years of age face exponential punishments if they incur multiple DWIs in a ten year span. However, what about when it comes to juveniles? If a person under the age of 21 is caught drunk driving, do they face the same harsh punishments for adults or do they get it even worse?

While the juvenile laws for drunk driving differ compared to adults, they will not simply receive a slap on the wrist. As these individuals are still just in the beginnings of life, courts wish to strongly deter them from committing the crime again and will often come down hard.

Minnesota’s Zero Tolerance Juvenile Alcohol Law

When it comes to drinking and driving or other juvenile alcohol-related crimes, minors are not afforded the same rights as adults. As an adult, if you are below the legal limit, you may not be arrested for a DWI. However, even one small trace of alcohol in a minor is enough for an arrest.

Furthermore, for minors that have a higher blood alcohol content than just a trace, they will find that they face higher punishments. So those above the limit of .08 will have a higher punishment than someone with .02 and those with a blood alcohol content of .16 will face even steeper punishments than that.

Vanessa’s Law and the Not a Drop Law

When it comes to minors and alcohol, there two primary laws that dictate what punishments they will face. While the zero tolerance policy of the state of Minnesota dictates they will be punished, these laws dictate what those punishments will be.

Vanessa’s Law

This law specifically targets juveniles that are below the age of 18 who get behind the wheel while under the influence. Punishments for violations of Vanessa’s Law include:

  • They cannot obtain a license or learner’s permit until age 18
  • Must pay up to $680 in order to receive the license
  • Juvenile DWI drivers may also face extra punishments depending on the nature of the incident and blood alcohol content depending on the judge’s discretion.

Not a Drop Law

If your child is still a minor, then the Not a Drop Law does not specifically pertain to them. This law advises punishments on those who are above 18 years of age, but below the legal drinking age of 21 years old. Punishments for violating the Not a Drop Law include:

  • Revocation of driver’s license for up to 30 days or more
  • Replacement with a limited or temporary license that has provisions to prevent further DWI incidents.
  • Additional punishments may be added depending on the nature of the incident and the blood alcohol content at the judge’s discretion.

Further Punishments for Underage DWI

These punishments for underage DWI seem rather tame compared to the adult charges for even a first time DWI misdemeanor. However, under the above laws, those are simply the base punishments. In order to prevent recidivism, judges will often tack on other punishments depending on the severity of the case. These punishments include:

  • Larger fines
  • Community service
  • Jail or juvenile hall time
  • Probation
  • Alcohol education classes
  • Vehicle confiscation

Often several of these will be tacked on. This means there is the potential that your juvenile will be detained for their reckless actions. In order to prevent this, you need to contact your lawyer right away and get ready to fight. If you are in the Minneapolis area and need representation for an underage DWI or even for a DWI for those above the age of 21 years old, contact us today to see what Judith A. Samson can do for you.

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