This is, in effect, a “strict liability” offense, and that has several effects:
- The prosecutor does not have to prove that your BAC was at a particular level. All they need to prove is that it was above 0.00;
- The prosecutor does not have to prove that you were impaired. Although impairment will likewise support a DUI charge, the presence of alcohol in your system obviates the necessity of dealing with the impairment issue;
- When an adult is facing a DUI charge, and his or her BAC is measured at 0.05 or less, this is usually a positive for the defense. It raises a presumption that the driver was not under the influence. That same BAC reading in the case of an underage driver will amount to evidence of guilt.
The penalties if you are convicted of underage DUI are not markedly different from a case involving an adult driver. Fines, fees, assessments, surcharges, and other penalties will apply, along with a license suspension or restricted license for two years. Jail time can also be imposed by the judge, although a first offender often receives probation. On the other hand, additional penalties, based on underage drinking (for example, minor in possession), may also apply.
Notwithstanding the strict liability nature of these charges, it is still possible to successfully defend an underage DUI case.
Defenses to an Underage DUI
Just because an underage DUI is easier in some case to prove than one involving a person 21 or older, does not mean that you cannot mount a successful defense. Here are some of the defenses that could lead to a dismissal of the charges:
- Improper traffic stop. If the stop was not based upon reasonable suspicion, the evidence can be thrown out, and this could lead to the case being dismissed.
- Illegal checkpoints. The courts have ruled that sobriety checkpoints must follow certain guidelines. If the checkpoint was being operated in violation of those rules, your case could be tossed out.
- Field sobriety tests. Field sobriety tests that are commonly improperly administered or interpreted. Because of this, the conclusions draw by field sobriety test can be attacked in court.
- Denial of your right to an attorney. If a suspect is denied certain rights after asking to speak to an attorney, the judge can dismiss the case.
These are just a few of the possible defenses that may apply in an underage DUI case. The important thing is to speak to an experienced Phoenix DUI lawyer to make sure that you are properly represented, and that your rights are being protected.
Underage DUI Lawyers in Phoenix, AZ
At Feldman & Royle, we are aggressive DUI attorneys. If there are defenses available in your case, we will find them. Our goal is to provide you with the best chance for a dismissal or a not guilty verdict.
If you or your child is facing an underage DUI charge, call us for a free consultation.