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How Do Police Handle Underage Or Minor DUI Offenders In Florida?

Section 322.2616 of the Florida statutes specifically permits the police to test an underage person suspected of alcohol use, even in the absence of a parent or guardian. If a person is under the age of 21 and is found to have a blood alcohol concentration of more than 0.02, then the department of motor vehicles will take administrative action in the form of a 30-day hard license suspension (which means no driving whatsoever), followed by a six-month license suspension and the option to obtain a business purpose license. Unlike a person accused of DUI, an underage driver whose breath measures over .02 is NOT entitled to get an immediate hardship license. If a person under the age of 21 refuses a breath test, then the department of motor vehicles can suspend their license for one year.

If a person under the age of 21 has a blood alcohol concentration of more than 0.05, then in addition to the suspension they will have to complete DUI school, an alcohol evaluation, and counseling. However, depending on the circumstances of the case, it might be appropriate to assert a defense. For example, if an individual's drink was spiked while they were at a school dance, then they could use that as a defense, as it must be shown that the individual was aware of the fact that they had consumed alcohol. For an underage possession charge, the person has to be in actual possession of the alcohol. For example, if a bottle of alcohol was found in a vehicle with four passengers, it would have to be shown that the minor in question indeed had actual possession of or exercised dominion over the alcohol.

Will A Child Who Is Under 18 Be Brought To Jail On DUI Charges In Florida?

A child who is under the age of 18 who is brought to jail on DUI charges in Florida will be held for eight hours by statute. Anyone who is arrested for DUI must be held for eight hours or until they are tested and their breath alcohol concentration is under 0.02. Since the police are too busy to repeatedly test their prisoners to see who's finally below a breath alcohol concentration of 0.02, they usually just start running the clock once the person has been arrested. After eight hours, an underage individual may be released on bond or released to their parents.

Does The Implied Consent Law Apply To Drivers Under 21 In Florida?

The implied consent law in Florida applies to people under the age of 21 in the same way that it applies to people who are over the age of 21.

What Are The Long-Term Consequences Of Having A DUI On Record Before The Age Of 21?

If a person who is under the age of 21 is adjudicated guilty of a DUI, then they will likely be ineligible to have their records sealed or the conviction wiped off their criminal record, which can be a major setback for a young person who is just getting started in life. According to Florida statute, the court cannot withhold adjudication on a DUI case, but if a person is charged with a felony, the court can declare them to be a youthful offender and can withhold adjudication both on the felony and on the DUI for which they were arrested.

For example, I handled a case in 2018 involving a defendant who was under the age of 21 and had a false ID, the latter of which is a felony in Florida. The DUI alone was not eligible for adjudication to be withheld, but we were able to file a petition with the court to have the client treated as a youthful offender, and to therefore have adjudication withheld on both charges after pleading no contest or guilty to the charges. In other words, there is way for offenders who are under the age of 21 to resolve their case without a DUI conviction on their record; the tradeoff is that it involves being charged with a felony. A pretrial diversion program would also likely be available to the individual and permit them to receive a reckless driving charge instead of a DUI conviction.

For more information on Underage DUI Offenders In Florida, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (941) 219-5553 today.

Why We're Different

Board Certification as a DUI Specialist by the National College for DUI Defense. Formal NHTSA Certification as an Instructor of the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests given by police in DUI cases. Formal training as a NHTSA Drug Recognition Evaluator. ("Drug Evaluation & Classification") Formal training to operate the Intoxilyzer 8000, Florida's official breath test instrument. Extensive experience in teaching other attorneys how to handle DUI cases. Hundreds of jury trials both as defense lawyer and as prosecutor.