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What to Do If You’re Facing an Underage DUI Charge

Driving under the influence of alcohol is always dangerous, but it’s especially concerning when the driver is under 21. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), alcohol is the most commonly used drug among young people under 21 in the United States. More than 1 in 10 high school students reported riding with a driver who had been drinking alcohol in the past month. Additionally, around 5% of high school students who drove in the past month admitted to driving after consuming alcohol themselves.


The statistics are sobering. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that every single day, about 37 people in the United States die in alcohol-related crashes – that’s one person every 39 minutes. In 2022 alone, 13,524 lives were tragically lost due to drunk driving. All of these deaths were completely preventable.

What to Do If You’re Pulled Over

If you are under 21 and have been drinking, your best option is not to drive. However, if you find yourself pulled over by law enforcement, here are some tips:

  • Remain calm and be polite to the officer. Being argumentative will only make things worse.
  • Do not admit you were drinking, even if it’s obvious. Wait for the officer to guide the interaction.
  • If asked, politely decline to perform roadside sobriety tests or a breathalyzer without first consulting a lawyer. These tests are voluntary.
  • If you’re arrested, politely ask to contact your parents and a DUI lawyer immediately. Do not make any statements about the incident without legal counsel.

Understanding DUI Charges

In most states, it’s illegal for individuals under 21 to drive with any amount of alcohol in their system. So, even if you don’t feel impaired, having just one drink can result in a DUI if you’re underage.

The consequences for an underage DUI conviction vary by state but can include suspension or revocation of your driver’s license, fines up to $10,000, mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device, and even jail time. And that’s just for a first offense.

Some states have adopted “zero tolerance” laws, which automatically convict drivers under 21 for DUI if they have any detectable amount of alcohol in their system while operating a vehicle. The punishments are harsh in order to dissuade underage drinking and driving.

Your Next Steps

If you or someone you know is facing an underage DUI charge, the first step is to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to handle the case. A qualified lawyer understands the local DUI laws and trial processes and can build the strongest defense.

A DUI lawyer may be able to negotiate with the prosecutor to reduce charges or punishments and avoid a criminal record. They can also represent the defendant in court proceedings if a trial does occur. Because driving privileges are on the line, having a lawyer fight the DUI charge is essential.

It’s normal to feel overwhelmed and scared about facing DUI charges. But with an experienced legal team, it’s possible to mitigate damages, learn from the experience, and move forward with life. The key is making the smartest choices today to avoid further devastating consequences tomorrow.

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