Atlanta Underage DUI Penalties

If a person is under 21 but at least 17 years of age and they are convicted of a DUI, they will most likely be treated just like an adult. The serious treatment of the crime requires a serious defense against the charges. It is always prudent to work with an experienced Atlanta underage DUI attorney in these cases, who can provide that defense.

Typically, the penalty for this crime is 40 hours of community service. However, if it is a low enough blood alcohol concentration, for 17, 18, and 19-year-old drivers that can be reduced to 20 hours. Also, although 24 hours of jail time is required in most situations, a driver of that age is not usually sent back to finish the 24 hours in jail, if they have not completed it already.

Differences in Penalties

A person who is convicted at 20 years of age cannot drive for either six months or 12 months, depending on their blood alcohol level. The person convicted of DUI after they have turned 21 and for a first offense is usually able to get a driving permit immediately. The same DUI school is usually required, which is actually the risk reduction program, and a meeting with a drug and alcohol counselor is also usually required.

Long Term Impact of an Underage DUI

There are some long term consequences to an underage DUI, however it should not ruin someone’s life unless they allow it to do so.

With that said, a person charged with an underage DUI should select an attorney whom they are confident is going to give them the strongest defense. The attorney will investigate the case and advise them of whether it is better to take a plea deal, get the charge reduced if possible, or go to trial if that is the best option. And once all of that is completed and they know if they have an acquittal or a conviction, then they can plan on how to move forward with their life.

A person in this situation can still do almost anything with their life. It is not a felony, it does not take away one’s rights. A first DUI is not typically a felony. The individual should remember to address the alcohol issues or the drug issue during the counseling, and if they have an alcohol or drug dependency issue they should get counseling and fix that.

That said, one DUI will only typically cause problems if the person wants to work for someone else as a truck driver, an airline pilot, or a few other jobs like that. Those can be problematic. However, even those jobs are not impossible, they just require finding the right employer.

Alternative Sentencing for Underage DUIs

If it is a case where the judge is inclined to sentence a person back to jail, then sometimes they can negotiate with the prosecution or present to the judge an alternative like house arrest or home confinement, as it is commonly called. That is where a person typically wears an ankle monitor with a GPS locator, and provides a schedule to the monitoring company with their curfew. The schedule states where they are allowed to go during the day and that sort of thing.

When the person is allowed to serve their sentence at home confinement, it usually means they have a curfew and have to be home by a certain time. They are only allowed out of the house to go to approved locations such as school or work, doctor’s appointments, meeting their lawyer, et cetera. Home confinement is possible as an alternative to jail in many cases.

Qualifying for Alternative Sentencing

The biggest help in getting qualified for an alternative sentence is to have the alternative lined up prior to going to court. Sometimes people only try to avoid jail time after the judge has suggested it, which is generally not effective. An experienced attorney will speak with the prosecutor ahead of time and will know what the prosecutors are going to recommend concerning jail time. They will also hopefully be experienced with that particular trial judge, and will know what sentence that trial judge is inclined to give.

If it is a situation such as a repeat DUI or something else that makes the person vulnerable to a lot of jail time, it is imperative that the alternative be lined up. As an example, the home confinement company is contacted and there is a contract in place or available to show to the judge.

It is also very important to try to get the prosecutors to agree to alternative sentencing, because if the prosecutor will agree, it is presented to the judge as an agreement between the prosecution and the defense. In most cases this increases the likelihood that the judge will agree to the alternative.