It is not unusual for teenagers and young adults to dabble in risky behavior, including drinking alcohol, even if they’re underage. However, just like adults, those under age 21 sometimes find themselves facing drunk driving charges. Virginia residents may wonder, however, if those under the legal drinking age will face the same penalties adults do if they are convicted of DUI.
Virginia has a “zero tolerance” policy when it comes to underage drinking. It is illegal for those under age 21 to buy, possess or drink alcohol. In fact, there is a lower legal limit for those under age 21 when it comes to drunk driving. The legal limit for those over age 21 is 0.08 percent. However, the legal limit for those under age 21 sits at merely 0.02 percent. Effectively, this means that those under 21 who have only had one drink before driving could potentially face a DUI charge.
If a person under 21 is pulled over by police on suspicion of drunk driving and their blood alcohol content is between 0.02 percent and 0.08 percent, then, if convicted, their driver’s license may be suspended for one year and they will either be fined $500 or be ordered to perform at least 50 hours of community service. If a person under 21 is pulled over by police on suspicion of drunk driving and their blood alcohol content is 0.08 percent or above, they will face the same penalties as those who are age 21 or older. This means that, depending on the motorist’s BAC and whether it is a second or subsequent offense, a motorist could face the revocation of their driver’s license, fines and jail time.
Police and prosecutors in Virginia take drunk driving seriously, especially when it comes to underage drinking. It is important for those under age 21 to understand what penalties they will face if they are convicted of DUI. Since even one drink could potentially lead to drunk driving charges, motorists under age 21 will want to make sure that they make decisions that are in their best interests before getting behind the wheel.