DC DUI Charges as a Minor

An individual under the age of 18 will almost never be charged as an adult for a DUI case. DUIs are considered to be misdemeanors in Washington DC and, for the most part, minors are charged in the Washington DC family court as opposed to the adult courts.

The only circumstance in which a minor will be charged in an adult court is if there is a ruling that the circumstances of the crime are serious enough and that the factors surrounding the minor child’s actions are indicative of adult-decision making that would warrant treating that minor as an adult.

In a misdemeanor driving under the influence case, such factors are almost never present. Therefore, a minor child would almost never be charged as an adult for driving under the influence, unless that charge accompanied much more serious charges in the case. If the situation is serious enough to warrant a minor being charged as an adult, it is vital that the child get representation from a DC underage DUI lawyer, given the severity of the situation they are facing.

Legal BAC Level for Minors

BAC stands for blood alcohol content. Blood alcohol content is the amount of alcohol per unit of blood present in a person’s body. The blood alcohol content is an indicator of the level of the individual’s impairment. The higher the blood alcohol content, the higher the degree to which the person is impaired.

The per se legal limit for a person to be impaired is 0.08. If an individual has a BAC of 0.08, he or she is deemed impaired under DC law, regardless of his or her actions or demeanor.

If, however, an individual is under the age of 21, then any amount of alcohol in a his or her blood is sufficient to deem that person impaired for the purpose of determining impairments under DC DUI laws.

In other words, if a 19-year-old is pulled over while driving and, upon providing a breath sample for BAC testing, it is determined that the 19-year-old has alcohol in his or her blood,  he or she would be considered impaired even if his or her blood alcohol content was well below the 0.08 standard.

Any individual under the age of 21 years old is not permitted to be driving with any amount of alcohol in his or her bloodstream. That means that, while a blood alcohol content of 0.01 would most likely not be sufficient to convict a 22-year-old of driving under the influence, it would be sufficient to convict a 19-year-old of driving under the influence because, under DC law, a 19-year-old is not permitted to have any alcohol in his or her system while driving.

Penalties For a Child Convicted of an Adult DUI

A person between the ages of 18 and 21 will be charged with driving under the influence in the same criminal court as an individual over the age of 21. However, the standard to convict an individual between the ages of 18 and 21 of driving under the influence is not as high because a person under the age of 21 is not permitted to drive with any alcohol in his or her system.

If convicted for driving under the influence, an individual between 18 and 21 years of age will face the same possible maximum penalties as a person over 21 years of age. That means that the maximum penalty an individual between 18 and 21 would face for a first offense DUI is 180 days of jail.

The legal benefit for a person who has been convicted of a DUI and is 21 years old or younger is that he or she might be eligible for treatment under the DC Youth Rehabilitation Act. That means that, if an individual is 21 years old or younger at the time of his or her conviction, a judge could decide that, based on the person’s age, the facts of the case, or any other relevant factors, the person’s criminal record should be set aside and sealed under the Youth Rehabilitation Act.

It is definitely important for a person 21 years of age or under who is facing a criminal charge in Washington DC to hire a lawyer who understands DC specific rules such as the DC Youth Rehabilitation Act. Such an act could be very advantageous to a young person facing adult criminal charges as it may help him or her get their case set aside. The DC Youth Rehabilitation Act may also help an individual to get his or her records sealed such that a youthful indiscretion may not necessarily haunt them for life.