What are the consequences of an underage DUI conviction in Lansing?

All too often, youth assume that committing crimes as a minor won’t impact their future significantly. This mistaken attitude has cost many teens future opportunities for education, careers, and housing when convicted of a crime. DUI is one such bad judgment call that can haunt their lives for many years to come.

If your minor child or family member was recently arrested for DUI in Lansing, MI, it’s essential to take the potential consequences seriously. Lansing area courts are often hard on underage drinkers, especially those who do so and then get behind the wheel. Hiring an experienced juvenile attorney or drunk driving attorney (we happen to do both!) to represent your child and get them the second chance they deserve is important. Coontz Law believes these types of immature choices shouldn’t define the lives of young people who learned their lesson and want to do right in the future. 

How does Michigan law treat underage DUI offenders?

Minors who engage in drunk driving typically face the same legal consequences as those who are of legal age to drink. Depending on several factors, the juvenile court may decide to send your child’s case to an adult court setting, as well. 

Current law treats underage DUI offenders with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or higher with the same sentencing parameters as someone 21 years of age. It’s also possible that Michigan’s zero-tolerance policy might be applied instead. This means that any amount of alcohol found in a minor’s BAC is not permissible while driving, even though those over 21 may avoid conviction for BACs between 0.02 and 0.07.

Those convicted under the state’s zero-tolerance policy could face many of the below consequences:

  • A $250 fine and up to 360 hours of community service if a first-time offender
  • A maximum of 93 days jail time, fines of up to $500, and 60 days of community service for second-time offenders within a seven-year timeframe from the last conviction

These restrictions are applicable even for those returning from Canada. While it’s legal to drink at the age of 19 in that country, you can be convicted for DUI once you are back in Michigan. 

Additional consequences for minors convicted of underage DUI in Michigan

Outside of  jail, fines, and community service, there are additional penalties a Lansing juvenile court could impose on convicted minors:

Licensing points and insurance premium rate hikes

If your underage child gets convicted under Michigan’s zero-tolerance policy, four points will go on their driving record in addition to any other points added for related driving violations. Another costly consequence is the expensive rate hike that typically happens because of DUI crimes. With young people already considered at higher risk for insurers, this can add a financial burden on an already expensive auto policy. 

License suspension

Minor drivers who are first-time offenders under the zero-tolerance law will have a 30-day license restriction imposed. Any subsequent offenses will result in a three to twelve-month suspension if convicted of DUI with a 0.08 BAC or higher. 

Additional financial penalties

Those convicted of underage DUI in Lansing will also need to pay a $500 annual fee for two consecutive years. Additionally, if the court also insists on probation, monitoring, or random drug/alcohol testing, you can expect to pay the costs related to these services, as well.

Why you need an experienced juvenile DUI defense attorney

If your teen is facing underage DUI charges, as a parent, you’re likely afraid for their future and highly frustrated at the same time. At Coontz Law, our attorneys have training and experience specifically in juvenile court matters and understand what you’re feeling. We are here to guide you through the Lansing criminal court process and help your child move past this mistake. 

Reach out to us today so that we can get a better understanding of your circumstances. We can let you know how your case will likely proceed, what outcomes you should expect, and how we can build a defense that softens the impact of a conviction or avoids one altogether. Contact us today and set up an informative consultation to assess your underage DUI case and determine the best next steps for your defense.