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How a DUI Conviction Can Impact a Driver Under the Age of 21 A charge of driving under the influence should never be taken lightly because the ramifications of a conviction can range from loss of driving privileges to potential jail-time. For drivers under the legal drinking age of 21, a DUI conviction can come with legal ramifications of increased severity. Alcohol is a leading risk factor in fatal car accidents among teen drivers, with more than 20 percent of all teen driving fatalities involving alcohol in some capacity. Because of this, law enforcement officials are constantly on the lookout for inebriated driving amongst teen drivers. If you or a member of your family have been arrested for intoxicated driving, it is time to seek out the assistance of a legal professional. 

The Legal Ramifications

In Illinois, underage drivers can be charged for simply driving with a blood alcohol content over 0.00. This state law is known as the zero-tolerance policy. According to the zero-tolerance policy:

  • An underage drinker’s first arrest with a blood alcohol content over 0.00 will result in a license suspension of six months; and
  • A second offense will result in a suspension of driving privileges for a two year period.

If your child is convicted of a DUI, they will face having a Class A misdemeanor on their criminal record. Not only will the conviction result in a two-year license revocation, but the charge could impact their ability to secure employment or be admitted to universities. Throughout 2017, a staggering 1,160 underage drivers in Illinois were arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If your child is facing a DUI charge, the first step you should take is consulting with an attorney you can trust.  


What an Underage DUI Charge Could Mean For Your Child Consumption of alcohol as a minor (a person under the age of 21) is against the law in Illinois. Getting behind the wheel of a car, after consuming alcohol, can be especially dangerous for people under the legal drinking age. Due to the inherent danger of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the legal consequences of a DUI charge can be incredibly severe. If your child is charged with a DUI, it is important to speak with a legal professional. 

The Zero Tolerance Law 

In 2017, a staggering 397 drivers under the age of 21 lost their driving privileges due to violations of Illinois’ Zero Tolerance law. According to the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office, the Zero Tolerance policy was officially established in 1995. The law states that if a driver under the legal drinking age is found with traces of alcohol in their system, they may face driver’s license suspension. It is important to note that a minor does not have to be driving with a blood alcohol concentration over the standard legal limit of 0.08 to be in violation of the Zero Tolerance policy. Violation of the zero-tolerance policy results in a mandatory three-month license suspension. 

The Legal Consequences of an Underage DUI

Penalties for underage drivers are more severe if their BAC is 0.08 or higher. A first-time DUI conviction is a Class A misdemeanor, which can result in fines up to $2,500 and as long as one year in prison. For drivers under the age of 21, even a first-time DUI conviction automatically amounts to a two-year driver’s license revocation. For minors, restricted driver’s permit (RDP) eligibility is not warranted until the second year of the revocation. 


IL teen DUI lawyerWhat can happen to a 16- or 17-year-old driver if they get arrested for drinking and driving in DuPage County? In short: A lot. While drivers under the age of 18 have the advantage of being treated as juveniles, rather than adults, in the Illinois legal system, they have the disadvantage that state law is very tough on underage drinking and driving.

Drivers Under Age 18 Go to Juvenile Court

When a minor under the age of 18 is arrested in Illinois, they are processed through the juvenile justice system. By law, the police can only detain 16- and 17-year-olds in a municipal lockup or county jail for a maximum of 12 hours, after which they must either be released to parents or processed for placement in a juvenile facility. If a DUI charge is filed against the juvenile, they can either make a plea deal with the prosecutor or have a bench trial before a judge; juveniles are generally not entitled to jury trials.

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