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What Happens to a Juvenile Arrested for DUI?

Posted on in Underage DUI

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.

One benefit of being processed as a juvenile is that all juvenile records are sealed from public view. A second benefit is that a juvenile DUI can later be expunged, while an adult DUI is not eligible for expungement (705 ILCS 405/5-915).

Illinois’s Zero Tolerance Law for Drivers Under Age 21

In Illinois, drivers under age 21 are subject to the Zero Tolerance law, meaning that any blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over .00 is against the law (625 ILCS 5/11-501.8).

This law comes into play when a police officer stops a car for a traffic-law violation and has probable cause to believe that the driver has consumed an alcoholic beverage. The officer may then order BAC testing. This is similar to a traffic stop for DUI, except that the DUI charge requires evidence of driver impairment, while the Zero Tolerance charge only requires evidence of alcohol consumption.

If the under-21 driver’s BAC is over .00, they can be charged with a Zero Tolerance offense, for which the penalty is a three-month suspension of their driver’s license. If the driver refuses testing, they will get a six-month suspension. The suspension automatically goes into effect on the 46th day after the arrest. During this suspension, the offender may be granted a restricted driving permit (RDP) if there is good cause, such as a need to get to school, to work, or to medical care.

If the driver’s BAC is over .00 due to consumption of alcohol during a religious service or ceremony, or due to the ingestion of a normal dosage of medicine containing alcohol, they will not be found guilty of a Zero Tolerance offense.

Driving Under the Influence for Drivers Under Age 21

If the underage driver’s BAC is at least .08 or higher (or between .05 and .08 with additional evidence of impairment), they can be charged with DUI, under the same definition of DUI that applies to adults.

With a BAC of .08 or higher, the underage driver will be hit with the same statutory summary suspension of their driving privileges as an adult driver, which is six months for a first offense. During a statutory summary suspension, offenders over age 18 are eligible for a Monitoring Device Driving Permit (MDDP), which allows unlimited driving of a vehicle equipped with a breath alcohol ignition interlock device. Offenders under 18, however, are not eligible for an MDDP but may be able to get an RDP.

Most first-time DUI offenders are granted a 12-month court supervision, which avoids a conviction if the offender successfully completes all the conditions set by the court. If convicted, however, drivers under age 21 face stiffer penalties than adult drivers. Whereas the law demands a minimum one-year revocation of driving privileges for convicted drunk drivers over age 21, drivers under age 21 face a minimum two-year revocation of their driver’s license. And whereas adult drivers with a first-time DUI can get driving relief (an MDDP) within weeks after a DUI conviction, offenders under age 21 are not eligible for a Restricted Driving Permit (RDP) until the second year of the revocation period; they will be unable to drive at all for the first year.

Juvenile DUI Defense Attorney in Oak Brook

If your child under age 18 has been charged with driving under the influence, you need a DuPage County DUI defense lawyer with juvenile court experience. The attorneys at McMahon Law Office will diligently investigate all the circumstances of your case and work aggressively to get the best possible outcome for your child. For a free consultation, call 630-953-4400.






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