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What happens if a teen is charged with an underage DUI?

Getting a driver's license is a coming-of-age accomplishment for many teenagers. However, that license can quickly be taken away, especially if the teen decides to drink and drive. In New Jersey, there are significant penalties for those who are charged with underage DUI.

Those who are under the age of 21 should remember that the penalties for DUI also apply to operating a boat. If an underage driver of a motor vehicle or a boat is found to have a blood alcohol level of .01 percent, then he or she can be charged with underage DUI. The penalties for a conviction on such a charge are:

-- A license suspension of 30 to 90 days

-- Depending on the circumstances, the underage driver could be facing DUI mandatory fines and penalties

-- Community service of 15 to 30 days

-- Participation and completion of highway safety programs and alcohol education classes

If the underage driver is not 17 and has not received his or her driver's license yet, there would be a wait of an additional 30 to 90 days before receiving a license.

It is important for those charged with drunk driving to have effective counsel in court. A charge such as this underage DUI can have lasting consequences. In addition to the above penalties, the driver's insurance rates could skyrocket.

It may be tempting for an underage driver facing a DWI to simply plead guilty and be done; however, it is better to present a strong defense against the charge. This is why an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney can be so valuable.

Source: State of New Jersey Motor Vehicle Division, "Underage DUI" Oct. 08, 2014

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