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Underage DUI Charges In Georgia

In Georgia, it is strictly prohibited for any driver to be in control of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol—also known as DUI. The state’s strict sentencing guidelines mean that even first-time DUI offenders could be stripped of their license and put behind bars along with other severe punishments if they are found guilty. If you happen to be younger than 21 years old, higher penalties await you if arrested due to an underage DUI charge.

Not only is Georgia at the forefront of underage drinking and driving penalties, but all states in the United States have recently passed laws to deter motor vehicle operations while intoxicated. Although there may not be an official Zero Tolerance policy, most state legislatures have instituted some form of penalty for those found guilty of using drugs or alcohol before they reach 21 years old. If you or a loved one is facing underage DUI charges in Georgia, contact our Vidalia underage DUI lawyer at Downie Law, LLC today for a free consultation.

What Is An Underage DUI Charge?

In Georgia, it is a criminal offense for minors (under 21) to consume alcohol. Therefore, any individual who is legally too young to drink and operates a motor vehicle while inebriated can be charged with an underage DUI. There are two distinct types of DUIs that minors may face: one if they are actually under the influence and another if there is a traceable amount present in their system regardless of how it affects them.

Underage DUI Per Se

In the event a driver is 21 years of age or older, it’s strictly forbidden to operate or manage any type of vehicle when their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) reaches 0.08% and beyond. However, for underage drivers, this limit is much lower – an offense that will certainly be sanctioned accordingly by law enforcement.

A minor (anyone under the age of 21) can be charged with underage DUI if the person’s BAC is .02 or higher. In other words, minors face the same harsh DUI charges if their BAC is just a fraction of the legal limit for drivers over 21 years of age.

Underage DUI Less Safe

Even if a minor’s Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is below the legal limit of .02, they can still be charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI). Georgia DUI laws state that no one should operate a vehicle if their ability to do so safely has been hindered by drugs or alcohol. In other words, any impairment makes it unsafe for them to drive. This charge is referred to as “DUI less safe” and minors will also face this punishment even if they refuse chemical testing or are impaired due to drug use.

Underage DUI Penalties In Georgia

In Georgia, first-time offenders of underage drinking and driving are guilty of a misdemeanor. As part of the sentence, an individual may be fined anywhere between $300 to $1000 as well as serve 24 hours up to 12 months in jail. Additionally, they must complete 20 hours of community service within 60 days after their conviction date has been established.

second DUI offense within a ten-year period will incur severe consequences, such as fines of up to $1000, jail time ranging from 72 hours to 12 months in duration, and an obligatory 30 days of community service.

In the state of Georgia, a third DUI offense within ten years is seen as a “high and aggravated” misdemeanor. This type of charge carries with it both monetary fines ranging from $1000 to $5000, as well 15 days up to one year in jail along with at least 30 days dedicated solely to community service. As if that weren’t enough, those guilty of this crime must also face harsher prison terms than ordinarily expected due to only receiving four days credit for each thirty served in jail – no matter how docile they are while imprisoned.

In Georgia, if an individual is convicted of more than three offenses within a 10-year period, it is viewed as a “high and aggravated” crime that carries with it felony charges. The punishments for felonies are significantly harsher, including hefty fines, longer prison sentences, and increased community service hours.

Open Container Laws In Georgia

Open alcoholic drinks in a vehicle have been prohibited by federal legislation for nearly four decades, and the law applies to any sort of container with opened or partially removed seals. This includes bottles, flasks, cans, and cups.

In order to avert car accidents related to drunk driving, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration firmly prohibited open containers in any mode of transportation. This was their mission: a safe journey for everyone on the roads.

In Georgia and other states, some lawmakers attempted to make exceptions for vehicles used by those providing transportation services as a source of income, such as taxi cabs. However, the federal government dismissed these endeavors by state legislatures. As a result, OCGA 40-6-253 is the open container code section in our state.

The NHTSA has declared that allowing guests to consume beverages in motor homes primarily used for chartered group trips is permissible. Nonetheless, if the bus travels between states, this accommodation might be considered a crime under the open container laws of other states.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Does MIP Mean?

Are you curious about the legal terminology of Minor in Possession or “MIP”? As stated by Georgia’s OCGA 3-3-23(a), any action that falls under this category, such as holding an open container, consuming alcohol, creating possession through drinking, and/or having a partially consumed drink inside a motor vehicle can all be considered MIP charges.

If a person has been cited for both MIP (minor in possession) charge and DUI, their chances of getting a favorable outcome may be good if the BAC levels are low or zero, and they have not made any reckless driving mistakes. In this case, merely having a MIP ticket could be considered a “win.” A qualified Vidalia underage DUI lawyer will help determine the best possible resolution for your specific situation.

Even though the state of Georgia has its own MIP laws, it does not mean that other states have similar ones. Numerous holidaymakers from Georgia journey to Florida and might inadvertently violate their MIP legislation by taking for granted all regulations are equal across each state.

How Long Will Your License Be Suspended For An Underage DUI?

If an underage driver is convicted of DUI, they will not be allowed to drive for at least half a year and could face longer suspensions up to five years depending on their driving record and offense. There are no alternatives like work or school permits available during this time period. When applying for reinstatement after the suspension ends, certain criteria must also be fulfilled according to the individual’s past track record with driving laws.

Additionally, all DUI offenders (including underage drivers) are obligated to finish a compulsory “DUI Alcohol or Drug Use Risk Reduction Program” and an evaluation that tests for alcohol and drug dependence.

Contact Our Vidalia Underage DUI Lawyer Today

In case you or your child have been charged with underage DUI, get in touch with our experienced Vidalia underage DUI lawyer at Downie Law, LLC today. We are prepared to render aid to your family amid this hard time; thus, you don’t need to confront such a dilemma all by yourselves. We offer risk-free consultations so that we can better understand your case and help you determine the best path forward. Call our office today at (912) 537-9265 to learn more about how we can help.