Juvenile DUI Laws In Virginia

Juvenile Driving Under the Influence (DUI) laws in Virginia represent a specific legal area for children under the age of 21. While there are a range of potential penalties, the conviction of a juvenile DUI is considered a misdemeanor with implications to driving rights, fines, and potential community service. If your child is facing a DUI charge, you likely feel frustrated and overwhelmed. Consider reaching out to an experienced criminal defense attorney at the Law Office of Faraji A. Rosenthall at 703-934-0101 today to learn more about their legal rights, and ensure they remain protected.

Juvenile DUI Laws in Virginia

The Code of Virginia Section § 18.2-266.1 states it is illegal for any person under the age of 21 to consume alcohol when operating a vehicle. The state has a zero-tolerance policy for drinking and driving underage.

Anyone 18 years or younger is considered a juvenile whereas anyone between 18 and 21 is considered an adult and can be tried for underage drinking as an adult.

Any juvenile under the age of 18 with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.02% or more based on a chemical test administered by law enforcement is found in violation of Virginia Code § 18.2-266.1. Juveniles with a blood alcohol concentration above the legal limit for adults of 0.08% can also face the same criminal charges as an adult.

When a juvenile is pulled over and arrested for underage drinking, the arresting officer will require they submit to a breath test or blood test. If your child refuses it can result in additional license suspensions, fines, and juvenile hall sentences.

Juvenile DUI Charge Penalties

The punishment for juvenile DUI charges varies based on the blood alcohol content.

Juvenile Blood Alcohol Content Between 0.02% and 0.08%

A violation of juvenile DUI laws in Virginia below the limit of 0.08% can be a class 1 or class 2 misdemeanor.

Punishment includes:

a loss of driver’s license for 1 year starting at the date of conviction and

a mandatory fine, $500 minimum, or a mandatory 50 hours minimum of community service

The court can also choose to require that the juvenile attend a Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program. This program is not required but is available, and requires your juvenile to complete a drug and alcohol evaluation after which they can participate in additional education classes. Those who participate are eligible for a restricted driver’s license where they can drive to and from school, work, and their treatment sessions but nowhere else. During this time juveniles will have an ignition interlock device placed on their vehicle for at least 6 months.

Juvenile Blood Alcohol Content Between 0.08% and 0.15%

A violation of juvenile DUI laws in Virginia above the limit of 0.08% can be a class 1 misdemeanor.

Punishment includes:

a mandatory fine, minimum $250

An automatic suspension of driver’s license for 7 days

Juvenile Blood Alcohol Content Between 0.15% and 0.2%

If the blood alcohol content is between 0.15 and 0.2, your juvenile can face a minimum of five days in jail, in addition to fines, a loss of driving privileges, and potential community service.

Juvenile Blood Alcohol Content Above 0.2%

If the blood alcohol content is over 0.2% they can face an additional 10 days in jail, in addition to fines, a loss of driving privileges, and potential community service.

Juvenile Second Offenses

If your juvenile is convicted of a DUI and they are arrested for a second DUI offense within 5 years of the first, they can face potential revocation of your driver’s license for 3 years, a fine of $500, and between 1 month and 1 year in jail.

18-21-Year-Olds

A violation of DUI laws in Virginia for those between 18 and 21, if convicted, can result in a minimum sentence between five days and 20 days in jail as well as a fine between $250 and $500.

Juvenile Record for DUI Convictions

If your juvenile is convicted of a DUI in Virginia they will have a criminal record with that misdemeanor conviction. This can impede their ability to get certain jobs, required professional licenses once they graduate high school, and can impede their potential admissions to different universities. A misdemeanor conviction can also prevent your child from joining the military, influence immigration status, or prohibit them from living in public housing.

Defenses to Juvenile DUI Charges

Many of the defenses to juvenile DUI charges have to do with the validity of evidence. Consider contacting the Law Office of Faraji A. Rosenthall to learn more about potential defenses for your situation.

Probable Cause

In order to arrest a child for drinking and driving, police officers need probable cause that the juvenile in question was drinking. Once pulled over police officers can try to obtain evidence by asking if the individual was drinking. They can also administer breathalyzer or blood tests. If the police had no probable cause to pull your child over, you may have a strong defense against their DUI charge.

Breathalyzer Results

If your juvenile submitted to a breathalyzer, the reliability of the findings can be questioned. A New York Times investigation verified that breathalyzers are sensitive scientific instruments that must be regularly calibrated in order to function properly. It is up to each police precinct to properly maintain and calibrate the breathalyzers they use. In the event the breathalyzers are not properly maintained or calibrated it can result in findings up to 40% too high.

Blood Test Results

If your juvenile submitted to a blood test, the manner in which their blood sample was stored and processed could serve as grounds for a defense to juvenile DUI charges. Blood samples are drawn using a vacuum-sealed device to prevent contamination but these devices come with an expiration date. If the device used on your juvenile expired it could compromise their sample and result in a false positive. During the testing phase, if the blood sample was mixed with insufficient amounts of potassium oxalate or sodium fluoride, it can also compromise the blood and leave the simple subject to bacteria.

Contact an Experienced Defense Attorney To Learn More About Juvenile Rights

A juvenile DUI conviction is a serious crime. If your juvenile is facing a DUI charge, consider contacting an attorney to learn more about juvenile DUI laws in Virginia. When you reach out to the Law Office of Faraji A. Rosenthall at 703-934-0101, we can provide a consultation to review your situation and explain potential defenses to a DUI charge. Contact one of our experienced criminal defense attorneys to help your family during this difficult time.