Penalties a minor might face for DWI and alcohol-related offenses

| Jun 14, 2021 | DWI |

As the summer approaches, people in Kansas City and throughout Missouri will take to outdoor activities, go to events and try to enjoy the warm weather. For many, that will include drinking alcohol. Some might make the mistake of getting behind the wheel after drinking, be stopped by law enforcement and find themselves in a position they never expected to be in with charges for driving while intoxicated.

This can be problematic for anyone at any age, but it is especially worrisome for those under 21. Since they are not legally allowed to be drinking alcohol anyway, the penalties can be significantly worse and have a negative impact not just on their ability to drive, but can hinder them in other ways. Understanding the law is a vital aspect of a comprehensive defense.

Minors charged with DWI will face “abuse and lose”

The legal drinking age in Missouri is 21. That means that people under 21 cannot drink at all. If a person who is under 21 not only drinks but gets behind the wheel after drinking, there can be a series of penalties to reflect these violations. Based on what is called “abuse and lose,” if it is a first-offense, the person will have his or her driver license suspended for 90 days. If it is a subsequent offense, the license will be revoked for one year. It is not necessary for the person to be under the influence to be subject to these penalties. On the contrary, there are a series of acts that will result in the license suspension or revocation.

If the driver is charged with any offense related to alcohol, they will be penalized under abuse and lose. For an alcohol offense while operating a motor vehicle and possessing or using alcohol, any drug offense involving possession or use, an offense in which the license was altered or a second offense for possessing alcohol if the person is under 18, they will be penalized under abuse and lose. Regarding altering the license, it is not uncommon for people under 21 to try and use their altered, misrepresented or modified license to purchase alcohol. This will result in legal problems.

Being in possession of alcohol is also a legal challenge. Those who are between 15 and 21 can be suspended from driving if they buy or try to buy intoxicating liquor, possess it, are visibly intoxicated, or have a blood-alcohol content that is higher than 0.20%. For being in possession of alcohol, the driver license will be suspended for 30 days on a withdrawal action. In a second withdrawal action, it is 90 days. A third or subsequent withdrawal action will end with a one-year license revocation.

Young people should be aware of legal and other consequences

Losing a driver license is a problem for people under 21 not just because they will legally be prevented from driving. In these circumstances, this is true whether there was a DWI or not. It is also a negative when they are looking for employment, are trying to get into a school or enter the military.

Although these accusations are challenging, there are ways to fight them and perhaps achieve a positive outcome. The law enforcement officer might have made an error, there could be a reason the person appeared to have been breaking the law but wasn’t, or there could be other strategies to deal with the case. From the start, having professional assistance can be essential to craft a strategy.