Underage drunk driving has become an increasingly prevalent problem in the United States. According to statistics, in 2011, an estimated 2.4 million teens engaged in drinking and driving monthly. This drunk driving number has steadily increased in recent years. The foolish choices of minors can lead to a lifetime of unfavorable consequences.
In the United States, it is believed that one of the most common criminal offenses for underage individuals is operating a vehicle while intoxicated, otherwise known as an OWI. Unfortunately, this offense is one of the most harshly punished. Should you or an underage individual you care about be in trouble with the law due to underage drinking and driving, you want to consult with an Indiana underage OWI/DUI attorney.
At The Bellinger Law Office, we can help you protect an underage individual who is facing drinking charges. We understand that minors are vulnerable and know how stressful it can be trying to resolve criminal charges or prove an underage individual’s innocence. That’s why we use the knowledge we have gained from serving our community to help all our new clients by guiding them on what they need to do.
The Difference Between An OWI And DUI Underage Charge
When you hear the term OWI and DUI, it’s likely you don’t understand what the difference is. Both of these terms reference drunk driving. Should a minor have been charged with a DUI, they are being charged with driving while intoxicated. In contrast, if a juvenile has been charged with an OWI, they are being charged with operating a vehicle while under the influence.
Underage Administrative Penalties
There are a few administrative penalties that underage drivers will face if caught drinking and driving. Unlike adults, those under 21 years old are not allowed to have a BAC of more than 0.2 percent if driving. If a minor’s BAC was over 0.2 percent, the state of Indiana can suspend the individual’s license.
When the BAC level is 0.2 percent or higher, the license suspension period is 180 days. However, if the minor refused to take a breath test and it was found that they are over the state’s legal limit, their license will be suspended for one year.
Additionally, if an underage driver’s license was suspended due to being over the limit, they can apply for limited driving privileges while waiting for the suspension to end. Yet if they refused to take a breath test, they are not eligible for driving privileges.
Moreover, another administrative penalty in Indiana for underage drivers is the required victim impact program. Before a minor can receive their license again, they must pay for this program and attend all the required sessions.
Possible Lesser Criminal And Civil Penalties For Underage Drivers
If a driver is underage, there are primarily three different types of drunk driving charges that they could face. We have listed them below.
- A Class A Misdemeanor: An underage OWI is classified as a Class A misdemeanor if the individual’s BAC was higher than 0.15 percent or if a vehicle was being operated dangerously. This criminal offense carries a potential one year in prison and a fine of up to $5000.
- A Class C Misdemeanor: An underage OWI is classified as a Class C misdemeanor if the individual’s BAC was higher than 0.8 percent but under 0.15 percent. This criminal offense can constitute 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.
- A Class C Infraction: Unlike in other states, in Indiana, infractions are not seen as criminal offenses as they are seen as civil matters. If an underage driver had a BAC of between 0.2 percent and 0.8 percent, they would face a penalty fine of $500.
Defenses For DUI And OWI Charges When Underage
Remember that if you have been charged with underage drinking or someone you care for has, it is not the end of the world. There are a few defenses that an attorney can employ to prove your innocence or lessen your sentence. We have provided a few of the potential defenses below.
- You were not the driver, or it was a case of mistaken identity.
- The police officer administered an improper field sobriety test.
- The DUI testing equipment malfunctioned.
- The procedure surrounding your testing was mishandled.
- The alcohol in your system was not from a restricted beverage.
- You were unlawfully arrested.
- You were involved in an unlawful traffic stop.
Get In Contact With An Indiana Underage OWI/DUI Attorney Today To Discuss Your Underage Drinking Case
Dealing with OWI or DUI charges in Indiana can be complex, especially if you don’t understand the legalities. That’s why employing an experienced DUI/OWI Indiana-based attorney would be beneficial. At The Bellinger Law Office, we are more than ready to help you navigate an underage drinking case. Get in contact with our Indiana offices today to arrange a consultation.