Are there extra penalties for driving under the influence when underage?
Underage drinkers may have to enroll in special programs, serve extra suspensions and avoid suspension reductions when caught driving.
Most Massachusetts residents understand the dangers of driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, of the 350 fatalities caused by car accidents over the course of a single year, 208 of the crashes involved a driver with a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher. When a driver is found to be under the influence and under the legal drinking age, there could be extra consequences for his or her actions. This is in part because the person is essentially breaking more laws than a driver who is over the legal drinking age.
One of the most notable penalties for drunk drivers under the legal drinking age is the youth alcohol program assignment. The youth program is considered a preventative tool because it prevents more trouble. Anyone who has gotten in trouble for drinking underage, whether driving or not, may have to enroll in the program to help ensure the youth will not drink again until after his or her 21st birthday. The special assignment can also include extra time without a driver’s license thanks to the related youth alcohol suspension.
With the potential for being enrolled in the youth alcohol program comes a risk of having a license suspension extended. A person could be assigned separate suspensions or revocations for driving under the influence, being under age, failing a breathalyzer or refusing to take the chemical test. If there are multiple revocations, the underage drinker may have to serve each consecutively, which could mean a person is without his or her driver’s license for a year or more even for a first time offense.
Lack of reductions
For many first time offenders, it is possible to reduce how long they have to go without a driver’s license by enrolling in a driver education alcohol program. However, if a driver is under the legal drinking age, he or she may not have the opportunity to enroll in this program. Instead, the suspensions will either have to be served in full or the charges will have to be disproved. This could mean that a driver who is found to be underage and intoxicated may have to spend more time without a license than his or her 21-year-old counterpart.
If a Massachusetts youth drinks underage and gets behind the wheel, he or she may face some extra consequences because of his or her age. No matter the circumstances of an arrest for driving while drunk, it may be helpful to work with an attorney familiar with this type of criminal law case.