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Facing Under 21 DUI Charges in Florida: What You Need to Know


Understanding Under 21 DUI Charges in Florida

Driving under the influence (DUI) laws in Florida are stringent, especially for individuals under the age of 21. The state has adopted a “zero tolerance” policy, which means that even a small amount of alcohol in an underage driver’s system can lead to severe consequences. This section will explain what constitutes an Under 21 DUI charge in Florida, the legal limits, and the specific laws that apply to young drivers.

Florida’s Zero Tolerance Law

Florida’s zero tolerance law sets the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for drivers under 21 at 0.02%. This is significantly lower than the 0.08% limit for drivers aged 21 and over. The rationale behind this strict limit is to deter underage drinking and driving, which is statistically more likely to result in accidents and fatalities.

What is Florida’s zero tolerance law? Florida’s zero tolerance law sets the legal BAC limit for drivers under 21 at 0.02%.

When an officer is investigating a person under the age of twenty-one (21) for DUI, the officer has two choices:

  • Arrest the young person for DUI: If the officer has probable cause that the young person’s normal faculties are impaired by alcohol or drugs.
  • Not arrest the young person for DUI: Due to a lack of probable cause of impairment, but instead ask the young person to submit to a preliminary breath test under Florida’s zero tolerance statute that triggers an administrative suspension.

According to figures recently cited by the Orlando Police Department, in 2009, 18 to 20-year-olds made up only 4.9% of licensed drivers in Orange County, although those drivers make up about 5.5% of DUI arrests, 7.8% of drinking drivers in crashes, and 8.8% of fatal crashes. For these reasons, officers treat these cases seriously.

The 10 Day Rule to Fight the Administrative Suspension

After a person under the age of 21 is arrested for DUI, the officer is required to take the young person’s Florida driver license and issue a temporary driving permit (assuming the driver’s license is otherwise valid) which remains in effect for ten (10) days after the DUI arrest.

Young people charged with DUI must often rely on their parents and other relatives to help them hire an attorney. Many parents are shocked by their child’s conduct and intend to impose their own restrictions on the young person’s ability to drive. Parents should keep in mind the importance of fighting the administrative suspension even in those cases in which the young person will not be driving after the arrest.

An administrative suspension for DUI comes with a lifetime of consequences including a dramatic increase in insurance premiums.

By fighting that administrative suspension, many of those collateral consequences might be avoided. The formal review hearing with the Bureau of Administrative Reviews with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) in Orange County is an important part of the case. All of the witnesses in the case can be required to attend and questioned under oath by the criminal defense attorney.

What is a 322.2616 Violation?

A violation of Florida Statute 322.2616 is neither a traffic infraction nor a criminal offense. The detention for a Section 322.2616 violation does not constitute an arrest. Actions taken pursuant to this statute are recorded in the motor vehicle records maintained by DHSMV. Actions taken under this statute do not necessarily bar prosecution under Florida Statute 316.193.

The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, however, may not suspend the person’s license under Florida Statute 322.2615 and 322.2616 for the same episode.

Florida Statute 322.2616 Procedures

Florida Statute 322.2616 explains the provisions for the suspension of a driver’s license for persons under 21 years of age even though the person is NOT arrested for DUI. The statute explains the right to review and provides for the administrative suspension of the driving privileges of a person under the age of 21 who has a blood-alcohol or breath alcohol level of 0.02 or higher and is driving or in actual physical control of a motor vehicle in this state.

The statute also provides for the administrative suspension of the driving privilege of such person under the age of 21 who has refused to submit to a test to determine his or her blood-alcohol or breath-alcohol level.

In a DUBAL case involving a driving under the influence case with a DUI breath test reading over .08, the hearing officer must determine the type of instrument used from looking at the Breath Test Result Affidavit. If an Intoxilyzer was used, the hearing officer must verify that there is a current copy of the Agency Inspection report in the file.

The .02 Zero Tolerance Citation HSMV 78103

The scope of the formal review hearing in a zero tolerance case shall be limited to the issues listed in Florida Statute 322.2616. The 0.02 Zero Tolerance Citation is typically hand-written on the HSMV 78103 form. If a PBT was used then the hearing officer must verify there is a current copy of the United States Department of Transportation’s conforming-product list included.

The hearing officer must make an independent determination in accordance with a preponderance of the evidence as to whether the department should sustain, invalidate, or amend the suspension. The hearing officer must render a decision within 7 days of the close of the review hearing, send notice to the person of the hearing officer’s decision as to whether sufficient cause exists to sustain, amend, or invalidate the suspension. The disposition of any related criminal proceeding shall not affect a suspension.

A breath test to determine breath-alcohol level pursuant to Florida Statute 322.2616 may be conducted as authorized in Florida Statute 316.1932 or by a breath-alcohol test device (PBT) listed in the United States Department of Transportation’s conforming-product list of evidential breath-measuring devices. The reading from such device is presumed accurate and is admissible in any administrative hearing conducted under the authority of Florida Statute 322.2616.

The results of a blood test obtained during an investigation conducted under Florida Statute 316.1932 or 316.1933 may be used to suspend the driving privilege of a person under Florida Statute 322.2616.

A violation of Florida Statute 322.2616 is neither a traffic infraction nor a criminal offense, nor does being detained pursuant to this statute constitute an arrest.

Actions taken pursuant to this statute shall be recorded in the motor vehicle records maintained by DHSMV. Actions taken under this statute do not bar prosecution under Florida Statute 316.193. However, the department may not suspend the person’s license under Florida Statute 322.2615 and 322.2616 for the same episode.

For juveniles and young people under the age of 21 charged with DUI, Florida has enacted a zero tolerance legal limit of .02. For DUI cases involving a driver under the age of 21 in Orlando, FL, this legal limit means that even one drink can put the driver over the legal limit.

A young person charged with DUI can face severe sanctions including jail time or incarceration, probation, fines, court costs, community service hours, and a driver’s license suspension. The indirect consequences can be even more expensive, including an increase in insurance premiums that can last for more than 3 years after the conviction. Perhaps most importantly, the DUI conviction can limit the young person’s future employment and educational opportunities. High school and college students may also face disciplinary actions including being expelled from school.

For more information on the different types of DUI charges, you can explore Types of DUIs in Florida.

 

Penalties for Under 21 DUI Charges

Flashing Police Light

Facing Under 21 DUI charges in Florida comes with severe penalties that can impact a young person’s future. This section will outline the various penalties associated with Under 21 DUI charges, including administrative suspensions, fines, and potential jail time.

Administrative Suspensions

If an underage driver is found with a BAC of 0.02% or higher, their driver’s license will be administratively suspended. The duration of the suspension depends on whether it is a first-time offense or a repeat offense:

  • First Offense: Six-month suspension
  • Second or Subsequent Offense: Twelve-month suspension

If the driver refuses to submit to a breath, blood, or urine test, the suspension periods are even longer:

  • First Refusal: Twelve-month suspension
  • Second or Subsequent Refusal: Eighteen-month suspension

What is an administrative suspension? An administrative suspension is a temporary revocation of driving privileges imposed by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) without a court order.

Fines and Court Costs

Alongside administrative suspensions, underage DUI offenders face significant financial penalties. These fines can vary based on the specifics of the case but generally include:

  • First Offense: Fines ranging from $500 to $1,000
  • Second Offense: Fines ranging from $1,000 to $2,000
  • Third Offense: Fines exceeding $2,000

Additionally, court costs and other administrative fees can add to the overall financial burden. These costs can be overwhelming for young individuals and their families, especially when combined with other penalties.

Community Service and Probation

Underage DUI offenders may also be required to complete community service hours and serve probation periods. The specifics can vary, but typical requirements include:

  • First Offense: Up to 50 hours of community service
  • Second Offense: Up to 100 hours of community service
  • Probation: Up to one year for first offenses, longer for subsequent offenses

Community service is intended to serve as a form of restitution and rehabilitation, while probation ensures ongoing oversight and compliance with court-mandated conditions.

Potential Jail Time

While jail time is less common for first-time underage DUI offenders, it remains a possibility, especially for repeat offenders or cases involving aggravating factors such as accidents or injuries. Potential jail sentences include:

  • First Offense: Up to six months in jail
  • Second Offense: Up to nine months in jail
  • Third Offense: Up to one year in jail

Jail time can have a profound impact on a young person’s life, affecting their education, employment, and personal relationships.

Ignition Interlock Device (IID) Requirements

In some cases, underage DUI offenders may be required to install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) on their vehicles. This device requires the driver to pass a breathalyzer test before the vehicle can start. IID requirements typically include:

  • First Offense: Six months of IID installation
  • Second Offense: One year of IID installation
  • Third Offense: Two years of IID installation

The costs associated with IID installation and maintenance can be significant, adding to the financial burden of a DUI conviction.

Educational and Treatment Programs

Underage DUI offenders are often required to complete educational and treatment programs as part of their sentence. These programs aim to address the underlying issues related to alcohol use and driving behavior. Common requirements include:

  • DUI School: Mandatory attendance at a state-approved DUI school
  • Substance Abuse Evaluation: Assessment by a certified substance abuse counselor
  • Treatment Programs: Participation in alcohol or drug treatment programs as recommended

These programs are designed to educate offenders about the dangers of impaired driving and provide support for overcoming substance abuse issues.

Impact on Insurance and Future Opportunities

A DUI conviction can have long-lasting consequences beyond the immediate legal penalties. For instance, insurance premiums can skyrocket following a DUI conviction, making it expensive to maintain auto insurance coverage. Additionally, a DUI conviction can impact future employment and educational opportunities, as many employers and educational institutions conduct background checks.

For young individuals, the indirect consequences of a DUI conviction can be particularly severe. High school and college students may face disciplinary actions, including suspension or expulsion from school. Future career prospects can also be jeopardized, especially in professions that require a clean driving record or background check.

Understanding the full scope of Florida DUI penalties is crucial for young drivers and their families. The legal and financial burdens can be overwhelming, but with the right legal representation, it is possible to navigate these challenges and work towards a more positive outcome.

For more information on defending against DUI charges, visit our page on how to beat your DUI case.

Examples of Under 21 DUI Charges

To better understand the implications of Under 21 DUI charges, it is helpful to look at some hypothetical examples. These scenarios will illustrate how easily a young driver can find themselves facing serious legal consequences.

  • Example 1: An 18-year-old driver is pulled over for a minor traffic violation. The officer smells alcohol on their breath and administers a breathalyzer test, which shows a BAC of 0.03%. The driver is charged with Under 21 DUI and faces a six-month license suspension.
  • Example 2: A 20-year-old driver is involved in a minor accident. The responding officer suspects alcohol involvement and requests a breath test. The driver refuses, resulting in an automatic twelve-month suspension for the first refusal.

These examples highlight the severity of Florida’s zero tolerance policy towards underage drinking and driving. Even a small amount of alcohol can lead to significant legal consequences.

Case Study: The Impact of Refusal

Consider a scenario where a young driver refuses a breathalyzer test. Refusal can lead to harsher penalties compared to a failed test with a BAC over 0.02%:

  • First Refusal: Twelve-month license suspension
  • Second or Subsequent Refusal: Eighteen-month license suspension

Refusing a breath test can also complicate defense strategies, as it may be perceived as an admission of guilt. It’s crucial to understand the consequences of refusal and how it can affect the outcome of a DUI case.

Example 3: DUI with Property Damage

Another scenario involves a 19-year-old driver who causes property damage while driving under the influence. In addition to the standard DUI penalties, they may face additional charges for property damage:

  • Property Damage: Fines and restitution for the damage caused
  • Increased Insurance Rates: Higher premiums due to the accident

In cases involving property damage, the financial burdens can be overwhelming. For more information on the implications of such charges, visit our page on DUI with Property Damage.

Example 4: DUI with Serious Injury

Consider a 20-year-old driver who is involved in an accident resulting in serious bodily injury to another person. This scenario can lead to enhanced penalties, including:

  • Increased Jail Time: Potential for longer incarceration periods
  • Higher Fines: Substantial financial penalties
  • Felony Charges: Possible elevation of charges to a felony

Serious injury cases are treated with utmost severity. For a detailed understanding of these charges, visit our page on DUI with Serious Injury.

Example 5: High BAC Levels

A 21-year-old driver with a BAC over 0.15% faces even more severe consequences. High BAC levels can lead to:

  • Mandatory Ignition Interlock Device: Required installation of an IID
  • Extended License Suspension: Longer suspension periods
  • Increased Fines: Higher financial penalties

High BAC levels are a significant aggravating factor in DUI cases. Learn more about the penalties for elevated BAC levels on our page about DUI with BAC Over .15.

What is an Ignition Interlock Device (IID)? An IID is a breathalyzer for an individual’s vehicle, requiring the driver to blow into the device before the engine will start.

Example 6: DUI Involving Minors

Imagine a scenario where a 19-year-old driver is caught driving under the influence with minors in the vehicle. This can lead to additional charges, including:

  • Child Endangerment: Charges for putting minors at risk
  • Enhanced Penalties: Harsher fines and longer jail time

Driving under the influence with minors in the vehicle is a serious offense. For more on the legal ramifications, visit our page on DUI with Property Damage.

These examples underscore the importance of understanding the full scope of Florida DUI penalties. The consequences of an Under 21 DUI charge can be far-reaching, affecting various aspects of a young person’s life.

 

Defenses Against Under 21 DUI Charges

While the penalties for Under 21 DUI charges in Florida are severe, there are defenses that can be used to fight these charges. This section will explore some common defenses that can be employed by a skilled DUI attorney to potentially reduce or dismiss the charges.

Challenging the Traffic Stop

One possible defense is to challenge the legality of the traffic stop. If the officer did not have reasonable suspicion to pull over the driver, any evidence obtained during the stop may be inadmissible in court. This can significantly weaken the prosecution’s case. For instance, if the officer stopped the vehicle without a valid reason, such as a traffic violation or erratic driving, the entire case could be dismissed.

What constitutes an illegal traffic stop? A traffic stop is illegal if the officer did not have reasonable suspicion or probable cause to pull over the vehicle. Any evidence obtained from an illegal stop may be inadmissible in court.

Other defenses may include questioning the accuracy of the breathalyzer test or the procedures followed during the arrest. An experienced DUI attorney can evaluate the specifics of the case and develop a tailored defense strategy.

Questioning the Accuracy of Chemical Tests

Breathalyzers and other chemical tests are not infallible. Factors such as improper calibration, maintenance issues, and operator error can lead to inaccurate results. An experienced DUI attorney can scrutinize these aspects to challenge the validity of the test results.

  • Improper Calibration: If the breathalyzer was not properly calibrated, the results may be inaccurate.
  • Maintenance Issues: Regular maintenance is required to ensure the device’s accuracy. Any lapses can be grounds for challenging the results.
  • Operator Error: The officer administering the test must follow specific procedures. Any deviation can affect the test’s reliability.

By challenging the accuracy of the chemical tests, an attorney can cast doubt on the prosecution’s evidence, potentially leading to a reduction or dismissal of the charges.

Scrutinizing the Officer’s Observations and Procedures

The observations and procedures followed by the arresting officer are critical components of a DUI case. Any deviations from standard protocols or inconsistencies in the officer’s report can be used to cast doubt on the prosecution’s case.

  • Field Sobriety Tests: These tests are subjective and can be influenced by various factors such as fatigue, medical conditions, or nervousness.
  • Arrest Procedures: The officer must follow specific procedures during the arrest. Any failure to adhere to these protocols can be used to challenge the validity of the arrest.
  • Report Inconsistencies: Any discrepancies in the officer’s report can be used to challenge the credibility of their testimony.

For example, if the officer did not properly administer the field sobriety tests, an attorney can argue that the results are unreliable. This can be crucial in cases where the chemical test results are borderline or where the driver refused the test.

Medical Conditions and Medications

Certain medical conditions and medications can mimic the signs of alcohol impairment. For instance, diabetes can cause a person to exhibit symptoms similar to those of intoxication. An attorney can present medical evidence to explain these symptoms and argue that they were not caused by alcohol consumption.

Can medical conditions affect DUI test results? Yes, certain medical conditions and medications can mimic signs of alcohol impairment, potentially affecting the results of field sobriety and chemical tests.

By presenting medical evidence, an attorney can provide an alternative explanation for the driver’s behavior, potentially leading to a reduction or dismissal of the charges.

Challenging the Preliminary Breath Test (PBT)

In Florida, officers can ask drivers under 21 to submit to a preliminary breath test (PBT) under the zero tolerance statute. However, the accuracy of PBT devices can be questioned. Factors such as calibration, maintenance, and environmental conditions can affect the results. An attorney can challenge the reliability of the PBT results, arguing that they should not be used as evidence in court.

Additionally, the officer’s decision to administer a PBT instead of conducting a full DUI investigation can be scrutinized. If the officer did not have probable cause to believe that the driver’s normal faculties were impaired, the PBT results may be inadmissible.

Exploring Procedural Defenses

There are several procedural defenses that can be used to challenge an Under 21 DUI charge:

  • Improper Handling of Evidence: If the evidence was not properly handled or stored, it may be inadmissible in court.
  • Violation of Rights: If the driver’s rights were violated during the arrest, any evidence obtained as a result may be inadmissible.
  • Failure to Follow Protocols: Officers must follow specific protocols during a DUI investigation. Any failure to adhere to these protocols can be grounds for challenging the evidence.

For example, if the officer did not provide the driver with the required information about their rights, any evidence obtained during the investigation may be inadmissible. This can significantly weaken the prosecution’s case and increase the chances of a favorable outcome for the driver.

Defending against Under 21 DUI charges requires a thorough understanding of Florida’s DUI laws and procedures. An experienced DUI attorney can evaluate the specifics of the case, identify potential defenses, and develop a tailored defense strategy. By challenging the evidence and procedures used by the prosecution, an attorney can increase the chances of a favorable outcome.

At Leppard Law: DUI Lawyers, we have extensive experience defending young drivers against DUI charges. Our team understands the unique challenges faced by underage drivers and is dedicated to providing compassionate and effective legal representation. If you or a loved one is facing Under 21 DUI charges, contact us today to discuss your case and explore your legal options.

Legal Books

For more information on DUI defenses, visit our page on how to beat your DUI case. Understanding the various defenses available can help you navigate the legal process and protect your future.

Additionally, learn more about the potential penalties for DUI with property damage and DUI with serious injury to understand the full scope of DUI charges and their consequences.

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What happens if you refuse a breathalyzer test under 21 in Florida?

If you refuse a breathalyzer test under 21 in Florida, your driver’s license will be administratively suspended. For a first refusal, the suspension lasts 12 months. For a second or subsequent refusal, the suspension period extends to 18 months.

Can an Under 21 DUI charge be expunged in Florida?

In Florida, an Under 21 DUI charge cannot be expunged if it results in a conviction. However, if the charges are dropped or you are found not guilty, you may be eligible to have the arrest record sealed or expunged.

The legal BAC limit for drivers under 21 in Florida is 0.02%. This is part of Florida’s zero tolerance policy for underage drinking and driving. Exceeding this limit can lead to severe penalties, including license suspension.

How can a DUI attorney help with an Under 21 DUI charge?

A DUI attorney can help by challenging the legality of the traffic stop, questioning the accuracy of breathalyzer tests, and scrutinizing the arresting officer’s procedures. They can also explore medical conditions that may have affected the test results and develop a tailored defense strategy to potentially reduce or dismiss the charges.


Explore additional practice areas we serve to understand how we can assist you with various legal challenges:

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DUI with Serious Injury DUI with BAC Over .15
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Top-Rated DUI Lawyers Serving Florida

Looking for the best DUI lawyers in Florida? Our distinguished team of attorneys is committed to offering you the best possible defense against your DUI charges.

  • John Vallillo: As a stalwart in the Florida legal scene, John Vallillo has earned his stripes through a consistent record of case dismissals and proactive defense. His background as both a prosecutor and defense attorney enriches his strategic defense planning with invaluable insights.
  • Joe Easton: Renowned for crafting winning defenses, Joe Easton’s approach to legal advocacy in Florida combines thorough preparation with aggressive representation. His notable recognitions and ratings stand testament to his exceptional service and client-focused approach.
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Take the First Step Towards Your Defense

Facing under 21 DUI charges in Florida can be overwhelming, but you don’t have to navigate this challenging time alone. At Leppard Law: DUI Attorneys, we treat our clients like family, always putting your best interests first and fighting for the best possible outcome for your case.

But don’t just take our word for it. Our commitment to excellence has been recognized by numerous awards and accolades:

  • SuperLawyers “Rising Star” (2019-2020): Selected by peers, only 1.5 percent of lawyers achieve this honor. View Award
  • Awesome Attorneys Orlando (2019-2023): As chosen by readers of Orlando Family Magazine and legal peers. View Award
  • Top 10 DUI Attorneys near Orlando, FL (2023): Recognized by Thumbtack for our outstanding DUI defense. View Award
  • Top 10 Best DUI Law Near Orlando, Florida (2023): Highlighted by Yelp for our exceptional DUI legal services. View Award
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Our top-rated criminal defense attorneys are ready to provide the support and legal expertise you deserve. Schedule your free consultation today by calling 407-476-4111. Let us be the dedicated force in your corner, turning our insider knowledge into your strongest defense.

Experience the Leppard Law difference. Contact us now and take the first step towards a brighter future.

 

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Legally Reviewed by Joe Easton

Experienced Florida DUI Attorney

Legally reviewed by Joe Easton and the content team, this article provides essential insights on facing under 21 DUI charges in Florida. Joe Easton, with his extensive experience and strategic prowess in DUI and criminal defense, offers more than just legal representation; he brings a commitment to turning legal challenges into triumphs. His approach, combining tenacity in the courtroom with personalized client care, ensures your DUI case is not just defended but championed with dedication and expertise.

Learn More About Joe Easton