Being charged with a Minnesota DWI is a difficult thing to deal with when you’re of age. When you’re caught drunk driving under the legal drinking age, it’s even more difficult to handle, and the fallout can be even more severe. The laws and consequences are slightly different for underage DWI offenders, and we want to help you and your family in the event someone close to you is facing an underage DWI charge in Minnesota. Below, we take a closer look at the charge, potential penalties and your defense options.
Zero Tolerance in Minnesota
Minnesota has a “Zero Tolerance” or “Not a Drop” law for drivers under the age of 21. Basically, it is illegal for an underage person to operate a motor vehicle with any trace amount of alcohol in their system—anything above a BAC level of 0.02. The 0.08 BAC limit does not apply to underage drivers. Violation of the “Not a Drop” law is a misdemeanor offense potentially punishable by:
- Confiscation of the vehicle
- Driver’s license suspension
- Requirements to complete community service
- Mandatory attendance at alcohol education classes
- High fines
- Possible jail sentences
As with a regular DWI offense, the higher the BAC level at the time of driving, the harsher the penalties that go along with the offense.
Teenagers who receive traffic violations or alcohol related violations may not receive their learner’s permits or licenses until the age of 18. This includes violations such as open bottle, underage drinking, violation of the Minnesota implied consent advisory, and DWI. In addition, Minnesota residents under the age of 18 who receive an alcohol or drug violation cannot regain their licenses until the age of 18. As you might imagine, this can really put a damper on your ability to get to where you need to be on your own, which can be very difficult to handle at time when you’re gaining more personal freedoms during your teenage years.
Developing An Underage DWI Defense
Developing a defense to an underage drinking charge will depend on the circumstances of your arrest. Some common threads we’ll explore when formulating the best steps forward include:
- Challenging the basis for the traffic stop.
- Problems with the reading of the implied consent statute.
- Whether or not you knowingly ingested the alcohol.
- The accuracy of the breath test results.
There’s also the possibility that we can reach a deal with the prosecution to avoid the worst possible outcome through a plea deal. This is typically an option if it seems like you’re running low on legitimate challenges, but again your lawyer will cover all your options and provide their recommendation based on your specific case.
If you or someone you know has been charged with an underage drunk driving violation it is supremely important that you contact a Minnesota criminal defense lawyer to develop a strategy for successfully defending your case. A Minnesota DUI lawyer can help you weave through the legal maze and, most importantly, assist you in moving on with your life after such a traumatic experience. For assistance with an underage DUI or other problems with the law, give Avery and the team at Appelman Law Firm a call at (952) 224-2277.