Digital Indiscretions Erased; Legal Ones Not So Easy

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Digital Indiscretions Erased; Legal Ones Not So Easy

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California recently passed the first of its kind law allowing that teenagers have the right to “erase” digital indiscretions. Those could include anything from wearing too little clothing to having too much to drink.

The measure, called the “eraser bill,” was recently signed by the governor and requires social media websites to allow children under the age of 18 in California to remove their own postings, starting on January 2015. Many sites already allow users to delete their own posts, but this will give minors some legal ground on which to stand if they want to remove things like rants, pictures and postings that could harm their reputations and possibly hurt their chances of getting into certain colleges or landing a job.

If only it was that easy to erase a D.C. DUI arrest from one’s record. Unfortunately, a DUI conviction can have the same haunting effect on a minor’s education and career prospects, as well as on his or her reputation. And yet, it can’t be deleted with a few clicks of a mouse.

While there are many other areas of law in which teenagers tend to be treated less harshly than their adult counterparts, DUI law isn’t one of them. In fact, minors are held to an even stricter standard, due to the fact that they are involved in a disproportionate number of serious and fatal crashes.

So while an adult is not considered legally intoxicated unless his or her blood-alcohol level measures at the 0.08 threshold, a person under the age of 21 with any measurable amount of alcohol in his or her blood or breath while behind the wheel of a vehicle is going to be charged with driving while intoxicated.

While the threshold for prosecution is lowered in these cases, the penalties are not. A first-time offender is still going to face up to 180 days imprisonment and a fine of up to $1,000, plus a six-month license suspension. Additionally, an underage offender will face a six-month driver’s license suspension as well.

Even underage passengers, if they have been drinking, could face penalties, despite the fact that they weren’t driving. Penalties might include a 90-day license suspension and a $300 fine.

Plus, these offenses are going to remain on your record – and it won’t be so easy to eradicate them as it is for teens in California to take down pictures of themselves doing beer bongs. (However, it’s worth noting that such photographs, statements and even seemingly-obscure references posted on social media sites can and often are used against young defendants in court. Be careful what you post.)

Obviously, the best way to avoid potential long-term consequences for these kind of actions is to have your attorney help you avoid a conviction in the first place. This might involve working to suppress certain kinds of evidence, negotiating a plea on a lesser charge (say a minor traffic offense) or requesting to have the case dropped altogether on a number of grounds.

Bear in mind that usually, DWI, DUI and OWI cases are excluded from record expungement or sealing in D.C., so securing a good lawyer from the beginning is the best way to protect your future.

If you are facing DUI charges in D.C., contact the Law Office of Daniel A. Gross, PLLC at 202-596-5716.