It’s every parent’s nightmare: your teen, who is going to University of Missouri next fall, goes out with his friends on a Friday night. At midnight, you get a call: not from your teen, but from the police. He’s been picked up for drunk driving and charged with a DUI.
The only good news is that no one else was in the car. Still, you’re fuming mad. You might need to calm down a bit before you rationally can talk to him about the very real dangers of teen drunk driving. Like for instance, every day, more than three people under age 21 die in alcohol-impaired crashes.
And then comes the really hard part: facing the legal consequences.
Underage DUI: zero tolerance
Most states have zero tolerance laws for DUIs with drivers under 21. Even a small amount of alcohol, one or two drinks, can lead to an underage arrest. In Missouri and Kansas, underage drivers can’t have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.2%, compared to 0.8% for adults.
Underage drivers with one DUI offense in Missouri can face up to six months of jail, $50 in fines and suspension of their license for 30-90 days. In Kansas, someone with an underage DUI will have their license suspended for 30 days. If their DUI was exceptionally egregious (BAC .15% or higher), they will lose driving privileges for a year and must drive a vehicle equipped with an ignition interlock device.
Those with DUIs in Kansas also are not eligible for commercial driving jobs. In either state, an underage DUI may increase your car insurance premiums and effect your teen’s ability to get a job for a while.
If your teen is facing a DUI charge, you need to consult an experienced attorney. They can help you fight criminal charges, or at least fight to reduce the consequences of them. Without proper legal guidance, rebounding from an underage DUI can be daunting. Consulting an attorney is the first step in moving forward.