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Consequences of Underage DUI in Illinois

Posted on in DUI Defense

IL DUI lawyerWith the legal drinking age set at 21 nationwide, you would not expect there to be many arrests for driving under the influence (DUI) among people under age 21. Yet over 2,000 Illinois youth received punishment for underage driving and driving in 2016. If you are suspected of drinking and driving, the penalties you may face are substantially tougher if you are under age 21 than if you are age 21 or older.

The Legal Limit for Blood Alcohol is Lower for Underage Drivers

If you are at least 21 years old, you are considered guilty of DUI when you have a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher. You can also be charged with DUI if your BAC is .05 or higher and there is additional evidence that your driving was impaired.

However, if you have not reached your 21st birthday, Illinois law holds you to a stricter standard. Under the Illinois Zero Tolerance Law, a driver under age 21 with a tested BAC over .00 is subject to an administrative sanction, namely, suspension of their driver’s license.

Zero Tolerance Driving Suspensions Can Pose a Real Hardship

If the police have reasonable cause to suspect that an under-21 driver has been drinking at all prior to getting behind the wheel, they will ask the driver to submit to a BAC test. If the test shows a BAC over .00, your driving privileges will be suspended for three months. You have the right to refuse testing, but if you refuse, your license will be automatically suspended for six months. That is just for a first offense.

For a repeat offense, a BAC over .00 will result in a one-year suspension of your driver’s license and refusal of testing is punishable by a two-year suspension.

Anyone who has their driver’s license suspended prior to age 21, for whatever reason, must complete a remedial driver education course and pay a reinstatement fee to the Secretary of State before they can get their license back. They may also have to retake the driver’s license exam, both written and behind-the-wheel.

Not being able to drive to school, work, and other activities can pose a serious hardship. You will have to juggle the options of public transportation (which may not be readily available in your area), expensive cab rides, and begging rides from friends and family.

You may be able to challenge this suspension. You may also be eligible for a restricted driving permit (RDP) after serving part of the suspension period. A qualified DUI defense attorney can advise you regarding these options.

Zero Tolerance versus DUI Charge

The investigating officer has the discretion to decide whether to cite an under-21 driver for a Zero Tolerance violation, DUI, or both. This decision would be based on the person’s BAC level and the degree of driving impairment observed. A DUI charge is much more serious than a Zero Tolerance violation.

Statutory Summary Suspension Rules Apply to Drivers of All Ages

Regardless of your age, if you submit to a BAC test and it reads .08 or higher, your driver’s license will automatically be suspended for six months for a first offense. This is known as a statutory summary suspension.

As with a Zero Tolerance suspension, a DUI-related license suspension can be challenged, and you may be eligible for some type of driving relief during the suspension period.

DUI Conviction Penalties Are Tougher for Underage Offenders

Driver’s License Revocation. An underage driver convicted of DUI will have their driver’s license revoked for a minimum of two years. In contrast, a driver age 21 or over would face a minimum revocation of just one year.

Additional Penalties. Anyone convicted of DUI, regardless of age, is subject to various legal penalties, including a fine of up to $2,500. One extra penalty unique to underage DUI offenders is the Youthful Intoxicated Driver’s Visitation Program. This program involves supervised visits to medical facilities to observe victims injured or killed in DUI crashes, or people in the terminal stages of alcoholism.

Advice from an Experienced DuPage County DUI Defense Attorney

When it comes to drinking and driving, Illinois law is tougher on drivers under age 21 than those of legal drinking age. If you or a loved one has been charged with DUI or a Zero Tolerance violation, contact an experienced Oak Brook DUI defense lawyer without delay. We can challenge the suspension of your driver’s license and also defend you against DUI and other traffic violation charges. Call McMahon Law Offices at 630-953-4400 for a free consultation. Weekend and evening appointments are available.







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