In Georgia, any driver regardless of age, believed to have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher is considered to be driving under the influence as a matter of law. For drivers under the age is 21, that limit is reduced to 0.02, which, for the average drinker, is about one beer.
If a person or their child has been charged with driving under the influence, they should contact a Gwinnett County DUI lawyer for guidance through the court process and to gain an advocate at trial.
It surprises many people, but if the driver is age 17 or older they are treated as an adult for DUI sentencing purposes in Georgia. If the driver is 16 or younger, their case is handled in the juvenile courts, which gives them a certain amount of protection from the DUI being reported on their criminal history, however, it will still go on their driving history.
At the ages of 17 and 18, the driver will be tried in an adult court and treated as an adult with a couple of minor exceptions. For example, a 17-year-old would not be housed in jail with individuals aged 18 and older.
If a driver is aged 16 or younger at the time of arrest, their case goes to juvenile court. If they are aged 17 or older, it goes to the county level court that handles DUI for that given county. In Gwinnett County, which is one of the major counties outside of Atlanta, adults charged with a DUI start off in the Gwinnett Recorder’s Court.
If the driver is 16 or younger and the case goes to juvenile court, the judges are charged with determining and doing what is in the best interest of the child. A driver may be 16 years of age and feel like an adult in many ways, but the law still considers them a child, which gives the judge the manifesto to do what is in the best interest of the child.
In contrast, in adult courts, judges are much more concerned with punishment than they are in the best interest of the driver. Importantly, the juvenile courts will consider evidence and mitigation much more freely than the adult courts, including what the parents have done about it.
Considered parent action include whether they punished the child, took away the car, or signed the child up for counseling or driving lessons. The adult courts are a little more cut and dry about those types of things and look more at the offense and evidence. They are less concerned with the things this person does in mitigation, especially on a first offense.
A DUI stays on a person’s driving record if they are found guilty in Georgia, regardless of their age. It is very important to have a Gwinnett County underage DUI lawyer who will look at the facts of the case to see if it is possible to take the case to trial or negotiate so that the case will not end up on the DUI conviction.
Additionally, things can be done to make it easier for a person. For example, if a driver who is 20 years of age when arrested for DUI is convicted, either by being found guilty in trial or pleading guilty prior to turning 21, they cannot drive and cannot get a driving permit.
However, if an attorney is able to delay the trial until they turn 21, then even if they are found guilty, they are able to get a driving permit. One of the key differences is that for license suspension purposes they look at the age of conviction as opposed to the age at arrest. Those are the types of things that an experienced underage DUI attorney will know that will help a young driver.
One thing that surprises parents about these cases is that the police, courts, and prosecutors seem not to care if the child comes from a good family, if no one in the family has been in trouble before, if the family owns a home, if the family pays taxes, and if the child is a good student.
Many times parents will say that they feel as if the courts do not seem to care and they are correct to an extent. The courts, prosecutors, and police are not going to care unless the defense helps them care by giving them reasons to if the child is 18 or 19 years of age and not legally a child. In the minds of the judge and the prosecutor, an attorney can humanize or decriminalize the person who has been charged.
Things such as letters from coaches or principals, showing what a good student or athlete the person is, especially their attitude if they receive any awards or perhaps are an eagle scout can be helpful in showing this young person is on the right track and has just made this one mistake. This can be very helpful in changing the attitude that the prosecutors have about that young person.