Young people sometimes make severe errors in judgment that can affect them for the rest of their lives. One grave mistake for people under 21 is underage drinking and driving. If caught drinking under 21 and driving, you could face significant penalties limiting your ability to pursue an education, start a career, or engage in other endeavors.
At McKenzie Law Firm, P.C., we understand how one mistake can destroy a young person’s promising future. Our Reading under 21 DUI lawyer works to help minimize the consequences that could come with an underage DUI conviction. Our Reading, PA DUI lawyer can work with you throughout the legal process.
Laws that Could Apply to Your Under 21 DUI Case
75 P.a.C.S. § 38 prohibits drivers of any age from operating a motor vehicle after drinking alcohol or using drugs. The legal limit for blood alcohol content is 0.08%, but higher alcohol content or controlled drug consumption could result in more charges and penalties.
Open container laws in Pennsylvania could apply if you have an open alcoholic beverage in your vehicle when pulled over.
If someone was injured or passed away because of the DUI offense, you could also face criminal charges for aggravated assault or homicide by vehicle. These charges are more serious and are likely to come with additional penalties.
Potential Penalties for Driving Under the Influence When Under 21
Penalties for under 21 DUI convictions differ depending on the severity and extent of your transgression. Individuals facing first-time DUI charges with a low BAC may face lower penalties than repeat offenders or drivers with a high BAC.
Upon conviction for any DUI offense, you could face the following penalties:
- License suspension, restriction, or revocation
- Probation and imprisonment
- Community service
- Drug and alcohol treatment
- Alcohol highway safety course
- Ignition interlock system
If you test high for blood alcohol content or positive for controlled substances, you may experience more severe penalties. Similarly, if you had a minor in the vehicle or were in an accident, you could face more significant consequences.
Our Reading Under 21 DUI Attorneys Are Here to Help You
You have a legal right to a criminal defense attorney when arrested on criminal charges, including DUI offenses. Our under 21 DUI attorneys in Reading could help you navigate the legal process by:
- Requesting case dismissal or reduced charges
- Talking the judge or prosecutor into dropping charges
- Requesting your release or reduced bail while you await trial
- Creating a sound defense for your DUI case
- Gathering evidence and questioning witnesses
- Analyzing evidence to determine weaknesses in the opposition’s case
Every case is unique, so it is impossible to predict the process or outcome of an underage DUI case in advance. You can rest assured, however, that McKenzie Law Firm, P.C. will do everything in our power to defend your legal rights.
What to Expect Following a Reading Underage DUI Arrest
When you face DUI charges under the age of 21, the legal process is typically as follows:
Arrest for Driving Under the Influence
You may be arrested immediately after being pulled over for a DUI if the officer believes they have probable cause. When you are arrested in Pennsylvania, the officer reads your Miranda rights, takes you into custody, and transports you to the local police station for tests and booking.
Urine, Blood, or Breath Test
At the police station, officers may administer a blood, urine, or breath test for blood alcohol content (BAC) and controlled substances. If you refuse a test, you could face more severe charges and penalties.
Booking and Charges
The authorities record your arrest during the booking process. They photograph you and take your name, address, and fingerprints for their records. The arrest record details the reason for your arrest.
If your BAC tests over the legal limit, the authorities file a legal complaint, which triggers the criminal legal process. You receive a copy of the complaint in the mail and a summons for your preliminary hearing or arraignment.
The time between being arrested and charged can be months, but it may benefit you to contact an underage DUI attorney as soon as possible so they can begin gathering evidence for your defense.
During your preliminary arraignment, the judge advises you of the charges against you and determines whether you can be released on bond. You attend a subsequent preliminary hearing to review the available evidence and decide whether the prosecution has sufficient grounds to prove you committed a crime. If they proceed with your case, you proceed to a formal arraignment, where your charges are formally read, and you enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest.
Plea Bargains and Negotiations
Throughout the process, your DUI attorney in Reading will work to negotiate a reduced sentence or have your case dismissed altogether. You may agree to plead guilty to a lower offense to reduce or eliminate charges. Such plea bargains can reduce your penalties and mitigate the long-term effects of a DUI conviction.
Trial and Sentencing
If your attorney does not reach an agreement with the judge or prosecutor, your case goes to trial. The judge listens to both sides and reviews the evidence. Based on the facts of the case, they determine whether you are guilty. If they convict you, the judge will also determine your sentence.
The McKenzie Law Firm, P.C. criminal defense team has extensive experience handling negotiations, plea bargains, and trial proceedings for clients facing DUI charges. We can work to try and reduce serious long-term consequences and even avoid jail time for a first offense.
Defenses We Could Use for Your Under 21 DUI Case
Our Reading under 21 DUI attorneys are well-versed in state and local laws and statutes. We understand that a DUI conviction can have extreme consequences for someone just starting their adult life. We can diligently investigate your case and build a sound defense for a more desirable outcome. Defenses we may use include:
- Failure to read Miranda rights
- No probable cause or reasonable suspicion
- Unlawful search and seizure
- Alibi or mistaken identity
- Erroneous or dishonest reporting
As your criminal defense team, it is our job to explore every available avenue to defend your legal rights. You can rely on McKenzie Law Firm, P.C. to provide the legal support you need during this challenging time.
Contact Our Reading Under 21 DUI Lawyers Today
For a young person under 21, a DUI conviction can mean a lifetime of difficulty. Our under 21 DUI accident lawyers in Reading work to reduce the long-term impact of consequences that can arise from one poor decision. Contact McKenzie Law Firm, P.C. today to learn about your legal rights following an underage DUI arrest.