If you've recently gotten the call from your son or daughter that no parent wants to hear, advising you of their DUI arrest, you're probably concerned about what to expect next. While a DUI is always a serious offense, it can even more so for drivers who aren't old enough to purchase alcohol. In addition, a criminal conviction might impact their admission to some colleges and could prevent your son or daughter from leaving the state to go to school when they are accepted. Therefore, it's crucial to make sure that one terrible mistake doesn't destroy their future by asking the following questions of any DUI attorney you might hire.
#1-How Will Your State's "Zero-tolerance" Policy Affect the Situation?
It is often surprising to learn that every state has what is known as a "zero-tolerance" policy. Essentially it means that if someone under the age of 21 is found behind the wheel with virtually any amount of alcohol in their system, they can be charged with a DUI. If convicted of that offense, they can expect to lose their driving privileges and pay fines, in addition to the possibility of jail time.
Sadly, many colleges don't accept students with criminal histories. In addition, if your son or daughter is placed on probation, which is often required of drivers who have been convicted of a DUI, he or she might not be permitted to leave the state without permission or for an extended period of time—which might mean that a local college or in-state university would be necessary.
#2-Is Jail Time Probable?
It is important to note that the laws about DUIs vary tremendously from one area to the next. Numerous factors will impact the ultimate determination of the court, and fines, community service and a suspension of driving privileges are quite likely. Fortunately, all states in the U.S. now consider a first-time DUI to be a misdemeanor.
That means that, assuming your son or daughter's error did not result in any injuries and that their BAC, or blood alcohol level, was not extremely high at the time of the arrest, he or she will rarely spend more than six months in jail. It's possible that young offenders might spend much less in time in jail, and your attorney may be able to negotiate more amenable alternatives.
#3-What Can Be Done To Minimize The Severity Of The Offense?
If you have watched any recent television shows or movies, you are probably aware of plea bargains. Specifically, a plea bargain occurs when the defendant and prosecutor come to an agreement about the charges, without the need for an actual trial. Typically, a plea bargain can benefit the defendant because it requires pleading guilty or no contest to a lesser charge than what they were originally arrested for, and it helps the prosecutor since it saves time, and by extension, the court's resources.
It's not unusual for plea bargains to be arranged for first-time DUIs. Ideally, your attorney will be familiar with the local courts and can make estimates of what to expect. Since the ramifications of a first-time DUI can be so severe, it's best to be sure that you have hired an experienced criminal attorney.
In conclusion, a DUI conviction could impact your underage son or daughter's future for many years. As a result, effective legal representation from the very beginning is essential, and asking criminal attorneys the above questions can help you to do so.