Drunk driving is a serious problem in the United States killing approximately 10,500 people each year. And although there’s been a decline in recent years, motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death among teenagers and young adults nationwide.
Illinois takes driving under the influence (DUI) very seriously, especially for underage drivers. The charges at any age for a DUI are serious but increase significantly if you’re drinking and driving under the age of 21.
Illinois has a zero-tolerance underage drinking and driving policy which means that anyone under 21 caught driving a vehicle with any trace of alcohol in their system can be arrested and charged. A Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) over .00 found in an underage driver will result in the loss of their driver’s license for at least three months. Depending on the circumstances of the case, other consequences may result, such as remedial substance use education and community service. Prior DUIs, the age of the driver, the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) level, whether there was an accident or whether the driver refused the field sobriety test could all be factors in any additional charges.
Underage DUI charges
An underage DUI charge is more serious. If the BAC is over .08%, (or .05% with other substances present in his/her system), the driver could be charged with a DUI and the penalties are more severe and are based on the number of previous offenses:
- First underage DUI charge – loss of driver’s license for two years and a fine of $2500.
- Second DUI charge – loss driver’s license for five years and a fine of $2500, plus jail time of five days or 240 hours of community service.
- Third conviction – loss of driver’s license for 10 years, intermittent jail time and up to $25,000 in fines.
- Fourth conviction – lifetime revocation of driver’s license.
- Additional charges such as underage possession or illegal transporting of alcohol may also be charged.
Teens and young adults may not realize the implications a DUI can have on their future. In addition to the serious consequences imposed by the state, a DUI can affect future college admission, current college enrollment and future employment. They are also facing an increase in car insurance rates and costly court fees.
This is a scary and uncertain time, but there are ways you can help your child.
- The first is to hire a skilled defense attorney who specializes in this field. An attorney may be able to lessen or possibly dismiss the charges and will help you to meet legal deadlines associated with your case.
- The second is to advise them against communicating anything online to avoid incriminating themselves. They should avoid sharing information about the case through text, email or social media apps.
In addition to supporting them financially, you can offer moral support and advice. Even though you see them as your child, it’s important to know that if he or she is over age 18, the court will treat them as an adult and they are subject to all related criminal charges.