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Lower D.C. DUI Rates Reported Among Teens

by | Oct 16, 2012

Despite the statistics touted by D.C. Council Members in their enactment of tougher DUI penalties, a new report from the Centers for Disease Control says that the percentage of teens who drink and drive has actually been halved since 1991.

D.C. DUI lawyers understand that of high school students aged 16 and older who were surveyed by the CDC, there was a 54 percent decrease in those who answered that they had driven a vehicle after drinking alcohol in the past month.

The research also showed that only one-fifth of teen drivers involved in fatal crashes had alcohol in their systems. The majority of those had blood alcohol contents that were above the 0.08 percent allowable for adults, suggesting that more education may be required to teach teens about the effects and consequences of binge drinking.

A charge of underage drinking – not even driving – in Washington D.C. carries a maximum sentence of a 90-day suspended driving license and a $300 fine. The greater concern is almost always the fact that you will walk away with a criminal record if convicted.

For simple underage drinking, a good attorney can usually negotiate your involvement in a community service diversion program in exchange for the dismissal of your charges. Additionally, your lawyer may be able to negotiate a deferred sentencing agreement , which would allow you to avoid a criminal record in exchange for following all the rules established by that agreement. Those may include certain community service obligations and a requirement to avoid consuming alcohol.

For drivers under the age of 21 in D.C., the city has a Zero Tolerance Law. What this means is that you can not have any measure of alcohol in your system and be considered legally allowed to drive.

This means that while an adult may be allowed to have a glass of wine with dinner before getting behind the wheel, someone under age 21 can not. If you are convicted of underage DUI, you can lose your license for anywhere from six months to a year and face a fine of $300. (There are similar penalties if you are found to be impaired by other substances or in possession of alcohol or illegal drugs while driving.)

As we previously reported, newer penalties for DUI convictions under the Comprehensive Impaired Driving Act of 2012 in D.C. have been increased, effective in August. Those include doubled jail penalties for first-time offenders, from 90 days to 180 days, and maximum fines that were previously set at $300 are now up to $1,000. Anyone with a BAC over 0.20 percent faces a minimum of 10 days in jail. Before, someone with that BAC would spend five days.

Obviously, the best way for teens to avoid a DUI is not to drink before getting in the vehicle. Parents can work to prevent underage DUI incidents by:

Making it clear that drinking and driving is forbidden;

Following the local graduated driver’s license laws;

Limit nighttime driving;

Limit the number of occupants allowed in the vehicle with your teen.

If your son or daughter is arrested for underage DUI, you may no doubt be disappointed. However, in the interest of protecting his or her future, you need to seek legal representation for him or her immediately.

If you are facing DUI charges in D.C., contact the Scrofano Law, PC for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights or fill out our online contact form. Visa, Mastercard and Discover cards accepted. Call 202-765-3175.