June 17, 2023 | DUI
Under Kentucky law, it is a serious offense to be charged with underage driving under the influence (DUI). A conviction can carry significant consequences and affect your child’s future. If your child has been charged with underage DUI, it is important to understand the elements of the offense, the potential penalties that your child may face, and how an experienced Louisville criminal defense attorney can help resolve the charge.
Underage DUI in Kentucky: The Law
According to Section 189A.010(1)(a) of the Kentucky Revised Statutes, it is unlawful for anyone under the age of 21 to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol contact (BAC) level that is .02% or higher. The legal limit for adults is .08%. This lower legal limit for minors means that even consuming a single alcoholic beverage before driving could potentially result in a conviction.
Consequences of Underage DUI
There are serious penalties for underage DUI convictions under Kentucky law. These include the following:
If convicted, your child’s license may result in a suspension of their privilege to drive in Kentucky for up to 120 days. A second or subsequent offense often leads to a much longer period of license suspension.
A Kentucky court will typically impose a fine for underage DUI of up to $500 for a first-time offense.
Many times, given the defendant’s youth and lack of financial resources, the court will impose a period of community service in lieu of a hefty fine that they might otherwise impose for an adult for a DUI conviction.
Alcohol Education Program
In most underage DUI cases, your child will need to complete an alcohol education program if convicted. That program is a combination of individual and group counseling on safe alcohol consumption and the dangers of drunk driving. The program typically lasts for 90 days.
Of course, there are other collateral consequences for an underage DUI conviction in Kentucky. A criminal conviction may stay on their record permanently, potentially affecting employment opportunities, admission to college, scholarships, and other pursuits that your child may seek. Challenging the charge is paramount.
Potential Defenses to Underage DUI
Just because your child has been charged with underage DUI, it does not automatically being that they will be convicted at trial. There are a number of defenses that a Louisville DUI defense lawyer can raise, including:
In order to convict someone of a traffic offense, the officer must have had a reasonable suspicion to initiate a traffic stop. If the officer failed to document the basis for the traffic stop, such as speeding or disobeying a traffic law, it may be a basis to dismiss the case.
For example, if the officer alleged that your child’s motor vehicle was swerving on the road, but a review of the dash camera shows that the vehicle is generally maintaining its lane, that may form the basis of a dismissal.
Faulty Breathalyzer Test
In order to establish intoxication, prosecutors often must rely on the results of a breathalyzer test. But these machines have to be regularly maintained like any other scientific instrumentation. A review of the records may prove that the breathalyzer was not properly calibrated or not accurate.
Violation of Rights
Even though your child is a minor, they enjoy the same rights as anyone else under the United States Constitution. Before an officer may take statements while your child is in custody, those statements are not admissible unless they were read their Miranda rights. They must also be advised of their rights to implied consent before a breathalyzer sample is obtained.
The Role of a Louisville DUI Defense Attorney
An experienced DUI defense attorney in Louisville, Kentucky, can represent your child in an underage drinking while driving case to obtain the best possible outcome under the circumstances.
A lawyer can investigate the case. They can speak to the officer. They can review the police report. They can watch any dash camera or body camera video. They can identify technical defenses to challenge whether the charge can even be proven. They can also develop mitigation defenses, such as community service and alcohol education, prior to trial so that they can negotiate a plea agreement with the prosecutor for leniency.
Contact the Louisville DUI Attorneys at Suhre & Associates, LLC For Help Today
Suhre & Associates, LLC – Louisville
214 Clay Street, Suite A
Louisville, KY 40202