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Everything You Need To Know About An Underage DUI

Published on April 20th, 2024

College-aged students often find themselves in environments where peer pressure and a prevalent drinking culture might lead to risky behaviors like drinking and driving. 

It’s crucial to understand that the consequences of an underage DUI in Illinois are severe and can have long-lasting effects, especially for those under 21. The legal implications are stringent, reflecting the state’s commitment to discourage underage drinking and driving.

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Illinois’ Minor Drinking Laws

In Illinois, the law takes a firm stance against underage drinking and driving. If you’re under the age of 21, the state imposes strict penalties for any consumption of alcohol. The Zero Tolerance Law in Illinois states that any underage driver caught with a blood alcohol content (BAC) above 0.00% can face serious consequences. Here’s a breakdown of some key aspects:

  • Investigating Officer’s Discretion: The decision to charge an individual with Zero Tolerance or DUI, or both, depends on the officer’s judgment and test results or refusal.
  • Zero Tolerance Penalties: For a first offense with a BAC over .00%, there’s a three-month driving suspension. A second offense leads to a one-year suspension. Refusing a BAC test can result in a six-month suspension for the first violation and a two-year suspension for the second.
  • Under 21 DUI Penalties: If a minor’s BAC is .08% or more, or over .05% with additional evidence of impairment, DUI charges apply. A first DUI conviction means a minimum two-year revocation of driving privileges, and the second conviction leads to at least five years.
  • Illegal Transportation of Alcoholic Beverages: This offense also involves suspension or revocation of driving privileges.

There are specific considerations for underage DUI offenders with suspended licenses. Certain driving relief options may be available during suspension periods, however, it’s important to note that this does not apply to all DUI offenders under the age of 21.

Restricted Driving for Underage Offenders:

  • Nighttime restrictions are commonly enforced, with driving prohibited from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.
  • These restrictions aim to reduce the risk of reoffending during late-night hours.
  • Exceptions for employment and other essential activities may apply, but they require specific approval.
  • Underage offenders and their families must verify allowed driving conditions with the Secretary of State’s office or consult with a lawyer to ensure compliance with these restrictions.

Understanding and adhering to these restrictions and possible exceptions is vital for underage DUI offenders seeking to navigate their suspension period responsibly.

What Happens If You Get Caught Underage Drinking And Driving?

If you’re under 21 and caught driving with any alcohol in your system in Illinois, the consequences are immediate and significant. There’s a high likelihood of license suspension, removing your driving privileges for a considerable period of time. In addition to this suspension or revocation, the penalties for an underage DUI in Illinois can be quite severe:

  • Fines and possible jail time, depending on the specifics of the DUI charge.
  • Mandatory participation in educational programs and substance abuse evaluations.
  • Suspension of driving privileges, impacting your ability to commute.
  • Long-term effects on your education and career prospects, as a DUI charge is a criminal charge. It can appear on your criminal record during background checks.
  • Higher car insurance rates, even after you turn 21 years old

Getting Your License Reinstated

In many ways, the steps for a driver’s license reinstatement are the same for those older and younger than 21. Regaining your license after a suspension due to underage DUI involves specific steps, including:

  • Meeting State Requirements: You need to fulfill all the criteria set by the state. This often involves waiting for a specific period and completing educational programs related to DUI and substance abuse.
  • Proof of Sobriety: Demonstrating that you have maintained sobriety is crucial. This might include participating in support groups or ongoing substance abuse treatment.
  • Chemical Tests: Passing the required tests to prove there is no alcohol in your system is a critical step.
  • Showing Responsible Behavior: You must demonstrate that you have learned from the incident and are committed to responsible driving.
  • Legal and Administrative Procedures: Completing all necessary legal and administrative processes, such as hearings or submitting documentation to the appropriate state department.

Let Our Team Help You Get Your License Back

Navigating these challenges can be complex, especially under state laws in the United States. For detailed guidance, especially in the State of Illinois, consulting with professionals like Johnson & Goldrich, P.C. is advisable. Our firm offers a free consultation for your license reinstatement case. Let us help you get your driving privileges back after your DUI.

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