Individuals under the age of 21 are much more vulnerable to vigorous prosecution for driving under the influence, and they are usually not given the benefit of a doubt by law enforcement, judges, and prosecutors.

Any underage driver who is arrested for DUI, whether an underage DUI or an adult DUI, should expect to be vigorously prosecuted in the Charleston area by any prosecutor assigned to their case. If you or a loved one are facing charges and are under the age of 21, consider retaining a Charleston underage DUI lawyer. Let a seasoned DUI attorney fight for you.

Underage DUI Case Process

In Charleston, DUI laws regarding individuals under the age of 21 are different than the laws for people over the age of 21. For someone to be charged with an underage DUI, a Breathalyzer test result of 0.02 or greater is sufficient to be presumed “under the influence.”

The DUI case process for those under the age of 21 is the same as with adults, notwithstanding the lower bar for impairment based on the 0.02 BAC threshold. A young person under the age of 21 in the Charleston area will likely be charged as an adult if they refuse or blow above a 0.08. Due to the way the underage DUI law in South Carolina is set up, the arresting officer is allowed to elect whether to prosecute an underage driver for violation of the under the age of 21 DUI law or the adult DUI law.

A person charged under either should expect to be prosecuted vigorously. The case will likely be heard in the municipal court unless the person charged is a repeat offender.

Underage DUI Penalties

The sentences for an underage DUI and an adult DUI are about the same. Defendants could face severe fines, jail time, driver license suspensions, and other long-term consequences. The severity of the penalty largely depends on whether it is a first, second, third, or fourth offense or felony DUI.  Ultimately, sentencing is determined by the presiding judge – not a prosecutor. Individuals facing these penalties should reach out to an underage DUI lawyer in Charleston.

Representing an Underage DUI Defendant

An experienced Charleston underage DUI attorney knows that there are different approaches to the representation of young people than adults. Oftentimes, if an individual can get out in front of the case by receiving treatment or counseling for an underlying substance abuse problem, that can go a long way in helping negotiate a possible resolution with the prosecutor and avoiding jail time or long-term loss of a driver’s license.

Waiting for the evidence to arrive months later and not immediately addressing any possible underlying substance abuse or mental health issues with a DUI defendant is not the best way to put a defendant in position for a successful result.

How an Underage DUI Attorney in Charleston Could Help

If you are under the age of 21 and find yourself facing charges for driving under the influence of alcohol, you may need an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side. A Charleston underage DUI lawyer could gather evidence, negotiate with prosecutors, and work to mitigate penalties and preserve your future. Reach out today to schedule a consultation.