It’s a Friday night, and you’re going to a party. Your parents even let you use the car for the night, so you’re picking up all your friends. You know there will probably be beer at the party, but can a couple drinks really hurt you? But what if you get pulled over, and get a DUI? Here are 5 things you should know about DUI’s and how they can affect you far into your future.
Easier to Charge
Teen drivers make up 10% of the population. That’s a pretty low percentage. However, despite how relatively few teen drivers there are on the road, in terms of drunk driving fatalities, those underage drivers accounts for 17% of the fatalities. To put this another way, a drunk teenager who then gets behind the wheel has a higher chance of killing someone than an adult drunk driver does. Because of this, it’s much easier for underaged drinkers to be charged with a DUI. For an adult to be considered drunk, their BAC needs to read at .08% or higher, but for anyone under 21, that number drops to a mere .02%.
When an underage driver is convicted of a DUI, they’ll get their driver’s license suspended for possibly one year or longer. They could get their car impounded, and/or face fines. Most teenagers convicted of a DUI will end up taking some sort of driver’s education class, as well as community service, though occasionally they may also have jail time of up to one year.
Penalties are also progressive. Once you’ve been charged with one DUI, any other DUI you get after the first will be worse. The judge who handles the case will see the past DUI, know you didn’t learn anything from the penalties from that, and impose more severe penalties and sanctions for the later ones, increasing in severity as the number of DUI’s grows.
Impact on Education and Employment
A DUI conviction can haunt a person for years to come, even if you were only a teenager when you were charged with it. You may face real issues gaining admission to the college or university of your choice, and when you go looking for jobs, you could have problems obtaining certain types of employment, particularly if they entail working around heavy machinery like cars or forklifts.
The representation you have over your case makes all the difference. The DUI defense lawyer representing you could mean that you get off with just a slap on the wrist or getting your car impounded and serving time in jail. It’s best to protect your legal rights and interests by taking a proactive stance with the attorney you choose. And don’t worry about fees when going in for a consultation: as a general rule, a lawyer won’t charge a teenager for the initial consultation over a DUI. If you choose to retain them, though, that’s another matter.
When it comes to the cost of a DUI, you don’t just have to worry about paying a lawyer to help with your case. You could also face fines, court costs, and other fees. You could have to attend driving classes or counseling, and you’ll end up having to pay for those. But beyond that, some states even make it possible for the innocent injured in a DUI accident to sue for punitive damages.
By understanding the facts around DUI’s and teen drivers, you’ll be more likely to avoid driving if you’ve been drinking. Additionally, perhaps you could encourage your parents to be more proactive, because with positive parental involvement, fewer teens drink and drive. For now, the next time you’re at a party, don’t drink if you know you’ll have to drive later. It’s not worth the risks.