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Underage Drinking & Driving

In Indiana there are different rules governing penalties related to minors under the age of 21 in regard to drinking and driving. Those under the age of twenty one who have been found guilty of operating a motor vehicle with a breath or blood alcohol content from as low as .02 BAC to .07 BAC may have their drivers license suspended by a court for up to one year.

This sanction imposed against the minor’s drivers license is not in relation to a lower threshold for dui applied against juveniles. Rather, it is a penalty targeted against unlawful use of alcohol by minor children who operate motor vehicles in any fashion whether impaired or not. Should the minor child be under the age of eighteen when such an offense has been commited, the likelihood would exist that the case would be filed within juvenile court and governed under the rules of Indiana juvenile law as opposed to adult criminal law.

However, should the minor child be at least eighteen years of age and/or have an alleged BAC level of .08 or more when operating a motor vehicle, excessive criminal ramifications can result unless your child is fully protected. This “perfect storm” of potential punishment available to a prosecutor prosecuting the minor child both between the ages of eighteen and twenty one who has also tested above the legal limit of .08 can create the double hardship of adult court punishment in conjunction with a license suspension far in excess of the customary minimum adult suspension of ninety days in cases for a first dui offense.

Whether in juvenile or adult court, capable defense attorneys must fight to ensure that a child’s future educational opportunities and/or employment prospects are not unreasonably burdened by an excessive drivers license suspension. Ironically, in many occasions courts will require that the minor child either maintain employment and/or complete probationary requirements such as community service work, alcohol or drug treatment programs and the like, while simultaneously imposing license suspensions that due not allow for such requirements to be easily adhered to. In such circumstances, it is undoubtedly the minor’s parents who must also be protected as it is they who may not only be required to assist in both the participation and/or transportation of the child to fulfill court ordered obligations of the child’s dui probation, but may also be required to pay fees toward these court ordered obligations on the child’s behalf.

Needless to say, it is incumbant upon a qualified defense attorney to not only have sufficient familiarity with the defense of drunk driving cases within adult court, but also experience in protecting the interests of the minor child and the child’s family from unreasonable punishment within the arena of juvenile court.

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