Driving under the influence (DUI) is a dangerous act that comes with serious legal consequences. Most parents fully understand this, but sadly, many of their children don’t. Teens are, by design, usually reckless, and when they get behind the wheel after drinking, they can face serious and sometimes lethal consequences. This is why it is important for every parent to fully explain the consequences of a DUI conviction to their teenager.
1) Lower BAC
The first thing a teen should know about driving under the influence isn’t a consequence at all; it’s a warning. Drivers over the age of 21 can legally drive after drinking as long as their blood alcohol content (BAC) doesn’t exceed .08 percent. With minors, however, this number is much lower. In Pennsylvania, for instance, an underage driver can be arrested for DUI with only a BAC of .02 percent. According to the information on his website, Philadelphia DUI lawyer “Your best defense is an aggressive and experienced offense.”
2) Jail Time
Jail time is a very real possibility for teenagers who get a DUI. While some courts will be lenient on a first time offender, this is definitely not always the case. Unfortunately for minors, their chances of going to jail for drinking and driving are even higher than a typical driver’s. This is because a minor can often face charges in addition to DUI. These include minor in possession of alcohol and even contributing to the delinquency of a minor in some cases.
3) Financial Penalties
There are numerous financial penalties that teenagers will face after a DUI. This includes extensive fines, possible restitution and heightened insurance rates for years to come.
4) Community Service
Courts usually hand down some form of community service for underage drivers convicted of driving under the influence. The number of hours handed down is often at the judge’s discretion, and they are usually in the mood to teach youthful offenders a good lesson by not going easy in this aspect.
5) College Plans
While a DUI conviction won’t destroy a teen’s chance of going to college, it may reduce the number of colleges that they will accept them. Many universities have strict ethics codes, and unfortunately for teens who make the mistake of driving under the influence, these institutions can deny admission to anyone that they want.
6) DUI Classes
Teenagers, and most others convicted of DUI for that matter, are very often given DUI/Drug classes as a form of rehabilitation. In this instance, however, “rehabilitation” may as well be synonymous with “punishment.” These classes take hours out of a teen’s day, and they aren’t free. A teen will usually have to pay for each class that they attend.
7) Probationary Period
One of the most seemingly minor effects of a teen DUI is the fact that they’ll likely be placed on probation, but in actuality, this is still another harsh reality. The teenager will likely have to report to a probation officer once a month, and while these visits aren’t often taxing, they will often have to pay the probation officer for this minor “supervision.”
8) Vehicle Impound
When someone gets pulled over for driving under the influence, teens included, they obviously cannot drive their car home. In most cases, the police officer will call a tow truck and take the vehicle to the city impound lot. This may not seem like a huge deal until a teen realizes that it can cost hundreds of dollars to get their car out of impound.
9) Employment Opportunities
Employers want workers they can trust, and unfortunately for some teens, a DUI appears as a measure of irresponsibility. There are some employers who won’t even consider hiring a person with a criminal record; this includes one that only contains DUIs.
10) Loss of Driving Privileges
The loss of a person’s license is another common repercussion of a driving under the influence charge. The length of suspension for teenagers can vary by state. In Pennsylvania, for instance, a teen convicted of their first DUI would lose it for three months. It is important for parents to set strict rules informing teens that they won’t have use of the car at all if they make the mistake of drinking and driving.
It’s difficult being a parent in this day and age. Even after teaching our children the difference between right and wrong, peer pressure can still lead to huge mistakes like underage drinking and driving. Parents can be proactive and teach their teen the consequences of driving under the influence and hope that they listen.
Kelly Kovacic is a paralegal who writes this article to bring awareness to the real consequences your teen may suffer if charged with driving under the influence. Philadelphia DUI lawyer, Steven Kellis can provide professional help and turn around the lives of those teens who find themselves going down the wrong path.