What Happens if You Get a DUI While Underage?

All it takes is one drink. If your college student gets behind the wheel after drinking alcohol, even one beer, and the police pull them over, they could be convicted of driving under the influence. What could this mean for their future?

Why are underage college students vulnerable to a DUI arrest?

In Virginia, the legal limit for a driver’s Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is .08 grams per liter. However, when the driver is under the legal drinking age, the limit is .02. This is equivalent to one drink.

While underage drinking itself is a crime, the penalties are more severe if they decide to get behind a wheel. If their friends are in the car, especially if they are carrying alcohol while underage or are already drunk, consequences can pile up.

When college students under 21 drink, it takes much less alcohol to affect them the way an older driver might feel the effects after even two or more drinks. Underage students might not know how to drink responsibly, and they are more susceptible to peer pressure.

What are the legal consequences?

In Virginia, a driver who is underage who has a BAC between .02 and .08 could be convicted of a misdemeanor and may face the following:

  • Driver’s license revoked for one year.
  • A mandatory minimum fine of $500.
  • Legal fees, towing fees, and license reinstatement fees.
  • 50 hours of community service.
  • Attending an Alcohol Safety Action Program.
  • Issued a restricted license which severely limits their movements.
  • If your child is under 18, they may face additional penalties with the Juvenile Court.
  • Additional consequences with the university, especially regarding scholarships.

If your student was also transporting alcohol (open or closed), underage friends who were drinking, were driving recklessly or caused damage, they may face additional penalties.

It might have been one drink at one party that leads to a cascade of other poor decisions. While it is possible for your college student to get back on track after a DUI conviction, it may take a strong legal team to help them.