DUI and minors: Pennsylvania has zero tolerance

Pennsylvania does not tolerate under-age drinking and driving. Minors are considered legally drunk if their blood alcohol content tests at 0.02 percent.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that alcohol is the number one substance with which minors experiment. This is not surprising since alcohol is consumed in social settings by adults and many homes in Pennsylvania have their own supply of beer, wine and hard liqueurs. Often, minors consume alcohol in an effort to look cool to their peers or they may be emulating their parents' examples.

Pennsylvania takes a severe stance against minors who drink, and especially against those who get behind the wheel of a car. Simply put, if anyone under the age of 21 consumes alcohol and then drives, he or she will face serious consequences.

A driver's license implies consent to blood alcohol testing.

People in Pennsylvania can expect to be tested if stopped for suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol or any other controlled substance. When young adults receive their first driver's license, they automatically consent to chemical testing per Pennsylvania vehicle code. This means that people must submit to testing, and if they refuse, their driving privileges are suspended for a court-ordered designated period.

What are the state's blood alcohol content levels?

In Pennsylvania, a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent or higher constitutes driving under the influence-that is unless the driver is a minor. Minors-anyone under the age of 21-can be found guilty of driving under the influence if their blood alcohol content tests at just 0.02 percent.

What penalties await teens convicted of DUI?

According to Pennsylvania Vehicle Code, Title 75, the ramifications that under-age drivers face if their blood alcohol content exceeds the legal limit of 0.02 include the following:

  • $500-$5,000 fine, jail time of 48 hours to six months, a license suspension of 12 months and parental notification for the first offense.
  • $750-$5,000 fine, jail time of 30 days to six months, a license suspension of 12 months and parental notification for the second offense.
  • $1,500-$10,000 fine, jail time of 90 days to five years, a license suspension of 18 months and parental notification for the third offense.

Furthermore, if teens are found with any amount of alcohol in their system, they face a standard $100 fine and $25 if they have an opened container of alcohol in the vehicle.

Why defending DUI charges is important.

A DUI conviction might not seem like a big deal to teenagers but it can affect their life for a long time. Minors have been expelled from school, lost scholarships and found it harder to find a good-paying job.

While DUI cases may seem cut and dry, there are often many facets involved. Breath tests have been known to be faulty, creating false positives. Additionally, law enforcement officers must adhere to specific procedures during the initial stop, but some fail to do this and may have violated the driver's rights. Therefore, people in Lehighton may find it beneficial to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney.