If an individual is pulled over for suspicion of a DUI and they are under 21 years of age, they could possibly be charged with Underage DUI under South Carolina’s Zero Tolerance law. The law is slightly different for those that are under 21 years of age and charged with Underage DUI compared to adults who are legally allowed to consume alcohol who may be charged with a standard (adult) DUI offense.

To fully understand the impact of a Goose Creek underage DUI charge in Goose Creek you could talk to a lawyer who has dealt with this specific kind of case before. A seasoned DUI attorney could help you assess your legal options and the potential implications of the allegations you are dealing with.

Legal BAC Levels for Minors Versus Adults

In Goose Creek, anyone under the age of 21 whose blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.02 or higher can be charged with an Underage DUI, but it is up to the arresting officer to decide. If the officer elects to prosecute the Underage DUI, then he or she is prohibited from prosecuting the individual for an adult DUI or any other offenses in Family Court if the individual is a minor.

A defendant’s age can also impact the way their underage DUI attorney mitigates the case using intervention, medical experts, or child psychologists who might be able to address underlying issues that contributed to the charge. However, the overall defense strategy will typically be the same, because the case is still a DUI.

Penalties for an Underage DUI in Goose Creek

A person under the age of 21 who is charged with Underage DUI in Goose Creek is only subject to a driver’s license suspension and the administrative penalties associated with the state’s Implied Consent law.  The Underage DUI statute does not contain an incarceration penalty section, and as a result, prosecution under this section is very rare. The decision is completely up to the officer. Hiring a local Underage DUI lawyer can help ensure all your rights are protected through effective and competent representation.

Parents should likewise expect that they will need an attorney to represent their child and help them understand the process. From the beginning, parents should be aware that such cases are still taken seriously by the court.

Potential Educational Consequences

If a university student is convicted of a DUI, the university could place them on academic probation, suspend them, or expel them for violating the code of conduct. A DUI could impact a university student’s status at their school just as any criminal charge could, and the consequences might not be different just because the student is underage.

Colleges typically find out about students’ DUI charges because local law enforcement agencies often contact universities and let them know that a student been charged. Criminal charges can also be found online.

Each university may handle students’ DUI charges differently. Oftentimes, the minor will be required to meet with a student affairs counselor who will ask questions about substance abuse. The student may also have to take substance abuse education classes afterward regardless of whether they are found guilty of the charges against them or not. DUIs can sometimes lead to campus conduct proceedings depending on the college’s policy. As an alcohol-related charge, an Underage DUI conviction could also impact a student’s ability to continue to receive scholarship money from the state of South Carolina, and possibly other states, as well.

Representing an Underage DUI Defendant

An experienced Goose Creek underage DUI attorney knows that there are different approaches to the representation of young people compared to adults. Oftentimes, if an individual can get ahead 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 a position for achieving a successful outcome.

Learn More About How DUIs Could Affect Minors in Goose Creek

Although they may not face exactly the same penalties as a legal adult would, minors under the age of 21 can still be charged with a form of DUI offense based on a much stricter standard that may still result in severe consequences.

If your child is facing this kind of allegation, seeking knowledgeable legal counsel could be in their best interests. Call today to get in touch with a Goose Creek underage DUI lawyer to discuss your case.