6 Lessons to Go Over Before Handing the Car Keys to Your Teenager – Avoid DUI Penalties

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Teenagers driving is one of the worst times for any parents. Chances are that you’re having sleepless nights thinking of all the awful things that can happen. As a responsible parent, the best thing you can do for your kids is to educate them carefully about the consequences of Driving Under Influence (DUI) or Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) in Florida. Before handing the car keys to your teenagers, sit down with them and go over DUI penalties, making sure they’re well aware of the rules and regulations. Here are a few points to stress with your kids before they head out the door as recommended by the expert Orlando criminal lawyer at Smith & Eulo. 

  1. You Can’t Just Have ONE Beer and Drive 

The first thing you should warn teenagers about is the dangers of peer pressure. Although the law does not permit people under 21 years of age to consume alcohol, statistics indicate the opposite. More often than not, young people drink to appear cool in front of their friends. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, close to 11% of the alcohol consumed in the country is by teens between the ages of 11 and 20. At least 60% of adolescents admit that they have consumed at least one alcoholic drink by the time they turn 18.  

Warn your kids that the state of Florida has stricter DUI penalties for underage drinking and driving than for adult drivers. People under the age of 21 years cannot have a BAC higher than 0.02 which is much lower than the permissible level of drivers over the age of 21. Just a single standard drink can raise BAC levels to 0.02%. Know that the standard quantity includes any of these drinks such as  

  • 12 ounces of beer 
  • 5 ounces of wine 
  • 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits 
  1. You DON’T Have a Window from the Time You Drink to Intoxication 

Many teenagers are under the mistaken impression that just having ONE drink won’t affect their driving abilities up until 15 minutes. Know that intoxication begins the minute you have the first drink and it doesn’t matter which one you choose. Florida has zero-tolerance rules for DUI and testing positive on a Breath Analyzer Test is a serious offense. 

  1. You Can’t Refuse to Take a BAC Test 

The law entitles police officers to ask any teenager to take a breath test if they have probable cause or even suspect that the teen is drunk. Refusing to take the test is considered an offense equivalent to Driving Under Influence as explained by this feature on Nolo. While the first refusal can incur a penalty of a suspended driving license for 12 months, a second charge can result in canceled driving privileges for at least 18 months. Teenagers can also get jail terms and community service in addition to paying court fees as part of DUI penalties. 

  1. You Can Lose Your License and Get a Jail Term 

Here are the typical DUI penalties underage drivers can face. Make sure your child understands them. 

  • You’ll lose your driving license for at least six months in case of a first violation. Depending on the BAC, you’ll pay a fine ranging from $1,000 to $2,000. 
  • You’ll have your license suspended for at least 12 months in case of a second violation. You might also pay fines of between $1,000 and $4,000 according to the BAC levels. 
  • The officer arresting you has the option of taking you to an addiction facility in the county. 
  • If the BAC tests at 0.05 or above, you’ll take a substance abuse course before you can be allowed to drive again. 
  • If the BAC tests 0.08 and above, you could get a jail term. 
  • You may have to install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID), which is connected to the car’s ignition system. This device will not allow the vehicle to start unless the driver blows into the tube with an alcohol-free breath. As this article on Lawyers warns, each time you hear a beeping sound from the IID, you’ll blow into the tube even if the car is in motion. In case the device detects high alcohol levels, it records the reading that law enforcement officials can detect. 

Do keep in mind that your kids face more serious charges if they’re involved in a crash and cause damage to property in addition to drinking and driving. 

  1. You’re Risking Your Education  

If enrolled in college, underage people found guilty of DUI charges by the Florida judicial system risk incurring independent penalties from the school. These charges can be more serious if students are found driving after drinking on campus or even, having alcohol in their possession. Of course, each college has its own regulations, but if the school follows the zero-tolerance policy, here are the additional DUI penalties kids could face.  

  • Cancelation of the student loan 
  • Eviction from student housing facilities 
  • Suspension or probation from classes 
  • Potential loss of scholarship programs 
  • Possibility of expulsion from college 
  1. You’re Risking Your Career and an Entire Future  

Teenagers and college students found guilty of a DUI misdemeanor have to deal with consequences that can affect their career and entire future. Losing valuable time to attend court hearings is only one of the problems. DUI penalties can reflect on long-term records and make it hard to get internships and jobs in the future.  

Different states have their own rules and regulations that pertain to underage drinking and driving. As the expert Maryland DUI lawyer at Jezic & Moyse recommends, parents should take the time to understand the laws of the state where they reside and educate their kids carefully. It is up to you to train your kids to be responsible drivers so that they’re not a danger to their own or any other person’s safety. Talk to your teens in detail about the risks and DUI penalties before you allow them to drive the family car. 

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