Due to concerted efforts from law enforcement, the number of DUI-related fatalities dropped significantly within the last several decades. In the 1980s and 90s, there were frequently over 1,000 traffic fatalities every year in Virginia. Many times, over half were alcohol-related. In 2014, a little over 250 traffic fatalities involved alcohol. While there is still work to do, this is good progress.
Even if a drunk driver does not end up in an accident, he or she will still face extreme consequences. These punishments are harsher for anyone under the age of 21. Parents need to build a strong defense team for their kids in this scenario, or else a conviction could jeopardize a teen's entire future.
A variety of factors affect what the ultimate outcome will be. Some common punishments that come with an underage DUI conviction include:
- Time at a juvenile detention center
- Three to five years of probation
- Fine exceeding $1,000
- Mandatory attendance at a DUI school
- Community service time
- Suspension of driver's license
- Jail time for repeat offenders
A big factor that affects the punishment is whether it was a teen's first run-in with the law. A first offense generally carries a less harsh punishment than a second or third offense.
Consequences in the future
A DUI conviction does not mean a teen will have to spend a few weekends performing community service, but it does impact his or her entire future. A teenager attending a private high school may face expulsion, depending on what the institution's policies are. A conviction also impacts college acceptance. Most college applications require the teenager to mention any felony or misdemeanor convictions. If a teenager applies to a particularly competitive university, then a felony conviction could affect whether the student gets in. A conviction also impacts career possibilities. Most employers conduct background checks and may not want to hire someone who has an arrest record.