Discouraging underage drinking is a local priority. The state has a zero-tolerance policy and law enforcement targets drivers who operate their vehicles while impaired.
At Groth & Associates, our tenacious DUI defense attorneys are ready to advocate on your behalf. If you or your underage child were charged with drinking and driving, reach out to a Toledo underage DUI lawyer immediately. Penalties are harsh, and you should not try to navigate the legal system without representation.
The offense of drinking and driving while under age 21 is called Operating a Vehicle after Underage Alcohol Consumption (OVAUC). It combines two crimes: underage drinking and operating a vehicle while impaired. Law enforcement and prosecutors treat it seriously, and anyone arrested on an OVAUC charge should engage a Toledo attorney immediately.
An underage driver with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .02 or above is driving over the legal limit. If the police stop a young driver because they show signs of impairment and the driver’s chemical test results show any alcohol, police could make an arrest.
An OVUAC charge with a BAC of .02 to .07 is a fourth-degree misdemeanor, and a second offense is a third-degree misdemeanor. If the underage driver’s BAC exceeds .08, the legal limit for adults, they could face operating a vehicle while impaired (OVI) charges in either adult or juvenile court. OVI is a first-degree misdemeanor.
A conviction for first-time OVUAC carries a potential fine of $250 and a jail sentence of 30 days, but neither is mandatory. However, a license suspension for a minimum of 90 days is required and could last up to two years. A judge could require any vehicle the underaged driver uses to install yellow DUI tags and an ignition interlock device. They could also order probation to include drug and alcohol treatment.
A second offense carries harsher penalties. The potential jail sentence could be as long as 60 days, and the fine could be up to $500. The minimum driver’s license suspension is one year and could extend to five years.
When a driver is under 18 and holds a probationary or learner’s permit, they face additional consequences for drinking and driving. In most cases, they must retake the written and road tests for their driver’s license. A judge has the discretion to restrict their driving privileges unless their parent is in the vehicle.
A minor convicted of underage driving while impaired could face time in a juvenile detention facility. Our attorneys work with prosecutors to find alternatives to detention, such as community service, driver intervention, or drug and alcohol dependency treatment.
A Toledo attorney’s primary goal is to convince a prosecutor to dismiss or reduce underage DUI charges. Our adept legal professionals can investigate the situation to determine whether the officers had sufficient reasonable suspicion to make the traffic stop and whether probable cause existed to administer a sobriety test. They can also determine whether the officer made mistakes regarding performing tests or handling the sample.
If the driver’s BAC was below the adult legal limit and the driver did not cause an accident, prosecutors could be willing to lower the charge. Penalties could allow the driver to undergo drug and alcohol education or perform community service instead of jail time or large fines.
Although the legal drinking age is 21 in this state, Ohio Revised Statutes § 4309.69 identifies a few specific situations in which a person who is younger than 21 can legally consume alcohol. They may drink alcohol under the supervision of a parent, guardian, or spouse over age 21, as part of a religious practice or ceremony, or under a doctor’s supervision as part of a medical procedure. In an appropriate case, a defense attorney might raise one of these exceptions to mitigate the severity of an OVUAC charge.
Young people make mistakes—it is part of growing up. Prosecutors and judges recognize that, but they also must impose consequences when a young person’s poor judgment endangers others.
A Toledo underage DUI lawyer can help resolve charges with the fewest possible long-term consequences. Call our firm as soon as you are arrested or charged.