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Underage Driving Under the Influence Laws

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Underage Driving Under the Influence Laws

Many states have separate laws for underage driving under the influence (DUI). They are almost identical to an adult DUI, except the driver is under the age of 21. In some states, DUI is expanded to cover driving a car, boat, or flying an airplane, and may also be called driving while impaired (DWI) or operating under the influence (OUI).

How Does Underage DUI Differ From Adult DUI?

Aside from the obvious age difference, underage and adult DUI differ in two ways:

Blood Alcohol Content

Most state statues make having a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher a DUI for an adult.  For someone under 21, the legal limit is usually a BAC of 0.02% or higher. That is four times lower than for an adult.


Punishment for underage DUI is generally different than for an adult because it is a combination of two crimes: underage drinking and DUI.

What Are the Consequences for Underage DUI?

Punishments are different depending on what state the offense occurs in, but typically include:

  • Taking the car,
  • Taking the underage driver's license for a period ranging from 90 days to 3 years,
  • Attending alcohol and driving educational classes,
  • Completing more than 30 to 60 days of public service,
  • Paying any fees associated with any punishments,
  • Fines ranging from $100 to $2,000,
  • Placed on probation for a period ranging from 3 months to 5 years,
  • Jail time, ranging from 48 hours to 1 year, or
  • A combination of some or all.

Do I Need an Attorney?

It is strongly recommended that you find a criminal defense attorney to assist you because of the extreme nature of the charges, and a criminal defense attorney can better advise you of your rights.

Photo of page author Ken LaMance

, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 04-28-2014 12:30 PM PDT

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