If you, or your child, has been arrested for an Underage Drinking DUI in Pinellas County, you are facing the potential for serious penalties that could tarnish your future. The creation of a criminal record can potentially ruin your chances of college education or employment. This is not the time to wait and see what happens. Take proactive steps now to defend yourself.
In this blog, we’ll explain the difference between an Underage Drinking DUI charge and a regular Underage drinking charge and how you can defend yourself.
What to Do If My Child Has Been Arrested for an Underage Drinking DUI in Pinellas County?
Contact a Criminal Defense Lawyer
Please contact our experienced Pinellas County Criminal Defense Lawyers today for a free consultation.
Our phone lines are open and waiting to help you get out of this mess. We regularly help young adults and teens who have gotten caught up in one-time mistakes, or misunderstandings. We can act quickly to get your charges reduced or dropped.
We have a very strong reputation in the Pinellas County courts and by taking the right steps, we can help you win some leniency to save your child’s future.
We take these cases very seriously, knowing that your child will not want their college education or employment chances ruined by an underage drinking arrest.
Save Your License
After any DUI arrest in Florida, the defendant’s driver’s license is immediately suspended. You have just 10 days to challenge this suspension and to gain a hardship license (for 42 days) which will allow you to travel for essential purposes, such as employment.
Read Related: How Does a DUI in Florida Affect My Job Or My Future?
Do Not Admit Fault or Plead Guilty
We advise your child to not make any incriminating statements or any posts on social media. We have seen cases of teens posting their arrests on social media, but the police may see this and spot incriminating evidence in the videos or statuses.
Recall What Happened
Ask your child to write down, in private, what happened. Doing this as soon as possible can preserve critical memories, such as if the police miscommunicated instructions or arrested your child unlawfully.
Underage Drinking DUI in Pinellas County Explained
Florida has a zero-tolerance policy for DUIs and that is especially true with underage DUIs.
For adults, the legal blood alcohol limit (BAC) is 0.08%. But for those aged under 21, it is 0.02%. However, the penalties become more severe if the BAC is above 0.08%.
You can also be arrested for a DUI if you’re deemed to be impaired. For example, if you are drunk or high from taking drugs earlier in the day then you can still be arrested for a DUI despite blowing less than 0.02% on the breathalyzer.
Penalties for an Underage Drinking DUI in Pinellas County
With a BAC of 0.02% or More
- A suspended license for 6 months (first-time offense)
- A suspended license for 1 year (second-time offense)
- Enrollment in an alcohol education program.
With a BAC of 0.08% or More
Underage drinking DUIs in Pinellas County with a BAC of 0.08% or more will face the same penalties as adult DUIs.
- Fines of between $500 to $1,000.
- A suspended license for between 180 days to 1 year.
- Impounded vehicle
- Incarceration in county jail for up to 6 months.
- 50 hours of community service.
Underage DUI Refusal
If a person under 21 refuses to perform a breathalyzer test, they may face:
- A suspended license for 1 year.
- A suspended license for 18 months (if the second or subsequent refusal).
Read Related: Can I Get a DUI if I’m Sleeping in My Car in Florida
Underage Drinking in Florida Explained
Alcohol is strictly forbidden for those under the age of 21 in Florida. There are two key laws to be aware of: ‘possession’ and ‘constructive possession’. These laws focus on the possession of alcoholic beverages.
Despite that, 33% of teenagers have drunk alcohol by the age of 15. At 18, it’s 60%
An alcoholic beverage is any container that contains alcohol, including:
- Malt liquor
- Malt beverage
- Distilled Spirits
- Mixed Drinks
- And more
Let’s explain those laws:
It is illegal to possess an alcoholic beverage if aged under 21 in Florida.
Actual possession is when the alcohol is on the person or within reach (such as in your hand, bag or pocket).
Note: In Florida, a child cannot possess alcohol even if their parent authorizes them to do so.
Constructive Possession is slightly different. The under-21-year-old does not have to actually hold the drink. The defendant just needs to be in a place where the defendant knew the alcohol was in their presence and they had control of it (such as if their car had a trunk full of beer).
Constructive Possession requires the following three criteria to be met:
- Knowledge of the presence of alcohol
- Knowledge of alcohol’s illegal nature
- Control is exercised over the alcohol.
Penalties for an Underage Drinking Charge in Pinellas County
If charged with an underage drinking offense in Pinellas County, you may face:
1st Time Conviction
- 2nd-degree misdemeanor
- $500 fine
- 60 days jail time (or a 6-month probation period)
- 6-12 month licenses suspension
2nd Time Conviction
- 1st-degree misdemeanor
- $1,000 fine
- 1 year jail time (or 12-month probation period)
- 2-year license suspension
Potential Defenses to an Underage Drinking DUI in Pinellas County
There are various ways that our Criminal Defense Attorneys help defend underage drinking or underage drinking DUIs in Pinellas County. These include:
- You had a lack of knowledge the beverage was alcohol.
- The drugs you took were prescription drugs.
- The drink was actually non-alcoholic.
- You didn’t know the drink was near you.
- Your Miranda rights weren’t read to you.
- The police had no reasonable suspicion that you were committing a crime or traffic violation (such as they stopped your car for no reason).
- Entrapment (you were tricked into drinking or holding an alcoholic beverage).
- You were holding a drink for a friend.
- You didn’t perform a breathalyzer or sobriety test because you didn’t understand the instructions, or had a health issue that prevented it.
- The police didn’t have a search warrant or reason to enter the premises where you were arrested.
If your child was clearly drunk and the evidence is stacked against them, then all is not lost.
First-time DUI offenders in Pinellas County can use the Pinellas County D.R.O.P program to fast-track the system and reduce their charges to a Reckless Driving Charge.
Many judges will also give young people some leniency if they take accountability for their drinking problems. These judges see countless teens and young adults stand before them every year. If you can stand out from the rest, you might avoid a DUI charge.
For example, you can go to a reputable AA meeting or counselor before you even stand before the judge.
Pinellas County Underage Drinking Resources
- The Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County’s Substance Abuse Prevention Support
- Online treatment facility center finder
- FACE IT Program for 12-18 years old struggling with alcohol or drug problems.
Underage Drinking Defense Attorney in Pinellas County, FL
If your child has been arrested for a DUI or underage drinking charge in Pinellas County, our Florida criminal defense attorneys can help.
We will fight aggressively and fast to get your charges dropped or reduced to save your child’s future.
Jesse Morse is a top-rated criminal defense attorney in Pinellas County. He is a lawyer at Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A., one of Tampa Bay’s most prestigious law firms with the reputation and connections to make things happen.
Contact us today for a free consultation to get started or CALL (727) 381-2300