Reminding teens about DUI penalties as prom season approaches

Graduation, open houses, and the prom are all events that eagerly await many high school students today. Unfortunately, for some, alcohol will play a part in the festivities.

Many teens are aware of the legal drinking age, albeit as a result of nationwide drinking and driving campaigns throughout the years. And many also know that it's illegal to drink and drive. But teenagers may not necessarily understand the exact repercussions-both direct and indirect-they may face if they are charged with a DUI.

Understanding the law

The state of Illinois, and many other states, has implemented zero tolerance drinking and driving laws for minors. This essentially means that it's against the law for anyone in Illinois under the age of 21 to drive with any trace of alcohol in their system. (The .08 BAC level only applies to those 21 and older.) The penalties will vary depending on the circumstances.

Penalties for first DUI

Minors charged with their first DUI in Illinois will likely face:

  • An automatic 6 month driver's license suspension
  • Community service
  • Jail time up to one year
  • A 2,500 fine

Penalties for a second DUI

Minors pulled over for drunk driving with a previous DUI will face more stringent penalties. These include:

  • An automatic 3 year driver's license suspension
  • Community service
  • Automatic 48 hour jail sentence (which could extend to 1 year)
  • A 2,500 fine

Individuals charged with a third DUI will face even stricter repercussions including felony charges.

The long-term repercussions of a DUI

It's important for teens to understand the penalties they will face under the law if they are caught drinking and driving. However, it's equally important for teenagers-particularly ones who are on their way to college or into the working world-to understand the indirect consequences that stem from a DUI conviction. Loss of college scholarships, job opportunities, and loss of professional licenses and are just a couple of examples. Even long after fines are paid and jail time is completed, a DUI can haunt an individual for years after the event.

The advocacy of a DUI lawyer

Given the upcoming prom season and graduation festivities, it's important for both teens and parents to understand the strict nature of the law when it comes to DUIs and the penalties that go in tandem.

Parents with teens who are already facing a drunk driving or other alcohol-related charge should consult with an experienced DUI attorney as soon as possible. A criminal defense lawyer knows the law and rights afforded to those charged and can provide invaluable advocacy. A lawyer can also help mitigate the negative consequences that could stem from the charge.