The legal drinking age in the U.S. is 21 years old. However, this doesn’t stop many teenagers from trying alcohol before they reach this age. According to the CDC, about one in four high school students reports drinking alcohol in the past month.
Underage drinking happens every day in the United States. It leads to about 190,000 emergency room visits by people under the age of 21 each year. It also increases the risk of car accidents, sexually transmitted diseases, and unplanned pregnancies.
The penalties for underage DUI in Illinois are severe. If caught driving under the influence, you will face a fine and up to one year in jail. Getting caught under the influence behind the wheel is genuinely a sticky situation, so read on to learn more.
How is a person charged for underage drinking?
It is illegal in Illinois for a person under 21 to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or greater. If you are pulled over and suspected of drinking and driving as an underage person, you have one of two options.
It is your choice whether to take the breath alcohol screening test or refuse. If you take the breath test and blow above .08, your license might get suspended immediately for a period of three months as part of the non-leniency violation.
If you wish to refuse the breathalyzer test, you’ll face an automatic license suspension of six months for a first offense. You may also get fined up to $500.
- Drive While Ability Impaired (DWAI)
For a person under 21 in Illinois, driving with a BAC of 0.05% or greater is illegal. If caught driving with a BAC of 0.05% or higher, you will be charged with DWAI. The penalties for a DWAI conviction include a minimum fine of $200, up to a maximum fine of $500, up to 90 days in jail, and a mandatory license suspension of at least three months.
- Zero Tolerance Law
There is also a “zero tolerance” law for drivers under the age of 21. This law makes it illegal for persons underaged to drive with any quota of alcohol in their system.
Additionally, a person convicted of a DUI or DWAI must complete a drug and alcohol evaluation and treatment program.
Penalties For Underage DUI In Illinois
The penalties for an underage DUI in Illinois are harsh. Knowing the potential consequences of your actions is vital before you get behind the wheel.
You will be charged with a Class A misdemeanor if it is your first offense. This carries a potential sentence of up to 364 days in jail and $2,500 fines or less. You will also be required to perform community service and complete an alcohol education course.
Your license will be ceased for six months, and you may be required to participate in the state’s program for Youthful Intoxicated Drivers’ Visitation. You will also be required to attend a Victim Impact Panel.
Even if it’s your first offense, you’ll be fined $500 and required to perform 30 hours of community service. If your BAC is above 0.8, you’ll face the same penalties as an adult DUI offender.
In conclusion, drinking and driving is never a good idea, but it’s terrible if you’re not of legal drinking age. In Illinois, the penalties for underage DUI are harsh, even if it’s your first offense.
Of course, the best way to avoid the penalties of an underage DUI is never to drink and drive. But if you find yourself in this position, it’s essential to know what you’re facing and have a dedicated attorney like us on your side.