Since it is illegal for people under the age of 21 to drink alcohol in Virginia, it follows that it would be very bad to be caught driving a car with any alcohol at all in your system. In fact, Virginia takes a zero-tolerance approach to underage drinking and driving. Although the legal limit for the amount of alcohol drivers over the age of 21 can have in their blood is .08 percent, even trace amounts of alcohol in an underage driver can warrant an arrest for DUI.

Penalties for Under-21s Are Swift and Severe

Teen Driver Standing by Police CarEven if you have not demonstrated any impairment in your ability to drive, you could be charged with a DUI for having a BAC as low as .02 percent if you are underage, and you could lose your license whether you are convicted of the DUI or not. If you are convicted with a BAC between .02 and .08, you will lose your license for at least a year and face additional penalties, including:

  • Mandatory fines
  • 50 hours of community service
  • Attendance at an alcohol education or treatment program

If your BAC is .08 percent or higher, you face the same penalties as an older driver. For a first offense, that includes fines of up to $2500, license suspension, jail time, and an ignition interlock device installed on your car for six months. The higher your BAC and the more times you are arrested, the higher the penalties will be.

DUIs Take a Toll on Young People

You have your whole life ahead of you, but your path can be derailed by a DUI conviction. College and high school students can lose scholarships and internships, be kicked off of sports teams, be suspended or expelled from school, and more. This is not a time to roll the dice. If you—or your underage child—have been charged with a DUI in the Chesapeake or Virginia Beach area, contact defense attorney James E. Short as soon as possible. Trust me, fighting the charge will be a worthwhile investment in your future.