You’re with your friends, and they’ve got a case of beer or two. They want you to have a few. You resist, knowing you’re driving, but give in. Then you get in the car. You think you’re OK to drive. Until you see the flashing lights behind you. A charge of driving under the influence (DUI) means trouble – but that’s especially so if you’re under 21.

Virginia law prohibits anyone under 21 from buying, possessing or drinking alcohol. If you are convicted of illegally drinking and driving, the punishment will be harsh. The standards for a DUI in Virginia are lower for someone under 21 than for someone 21 and older, though younger people are subject to the same penalties.

People under 21 can be convicted of drunk driving with a blood alcohol content as low as 0.02 percent as opposed to 0.08 percent for adults. If that happens, the court can suspend your driving privileges, fine you at least $500 and require you to perform at least 50 hours of community service. If you are found to have a blood-alcohol content level over the 0.08 percent threshold, the penalties can include the following for your first offense:

  • As long as one year in jail
  • A driver’s license revocation for one year
  • Use of an ignition interlock device for a specified time after your driving privileges are reinstated, at your expense
  • Enrollment in an alcohol safety program, at your expense

Add to those the higher cost you will face for auto insurance and other court fees. The long term costs of a conviction can be overwhelming.

This is a serious matter. An attorney experienced in DUI cases can help you go through the court process and work toward the best outcome for your case.