Driving under the influence is a bad decision. Unfortunately, teenagers are notorious for poor decision-making, vulnerability to peer pressure and failure to consider consequences for their actions. Combine that with a zero tolerance law, and you have a very dangerous situation for your teenager.
Car crashes are one of the top causes of death for teenagers in the United States. In fact, while teen drivers represent only 10 percent of licensed drivers in Illinois, they are involved in 17 percent of fatal crashes where alcohol is a factor. The state has taken steps to deter young people from drinking and driving.
Illinois' zero tolerance law means that even if your teen was not impaired by alcohol, he or she could face DUI charges. Legally, anyone under the age of 21 cannot have any alcohol in their system when operating a motor vehicle. The legal limit for blood alcohol content (BAC) for anyone under the age of 21 is .0 percent. Even without drinking enough to impair driving, your child could face criminal charges that could cause years of problems. In some cases, even if your teen wasn't caught actually operating a vehicle, driving under the influence (DUI) charges could still result.
DUI penalties aren't lighter for younger offenders
You may think that because your child is minor and teenagers are prone to bad choices, the courts will have sympathy and give a second chance. That isn't always the case. In fact, judges often choose to deter future criminal activity by making examples of offenders.
For first time DUI offenders who are under the age of 21, penalties include up to a year in prison, two years without a license and a fine of up to $2,500. Second offenses for minors could carry at least five days but up to a year in jail, a fine of $2,500 and loss of driving privileges for five full years, which is a mandatory minimum.
A third offense carries even worse penalties. In addition to at least 18 months but up to seven years in jail, your child would face a fine of up to $25,000 and loss of the ability to drive for ten full years. If your teenager causes an accident that results in great bodily harm or permanent disfigurement, the penalties include up to 12 years in prison, a $25,000 fine and loss of license for at least a year. Those penalties could change your child's life and future.
Convictions could make it difficult to get into college, obtain scholarships or get a good job. They could even impact your child's ability to rent an apartment in the future. Working with an experienced Illinois defense attorney who understands DUI laws is your best hope at a positive outcome to this situation. Your lawyer can help explore defense options and determine the best way forward.