Although drivers under 21 make up less than 10 percent of all licensed drivers in Ohio, they are responsible for 13 percent of all DUI-related fatalities in Ohio, despite the fact that alcohol consumption is illegal in any amount if you are under 21. With such stark numbers, it’s easy to understand why Ohio has a zero-tolerance policy for underage alcohol consumption and even less empathy for those arrested for an underage OVI.
When your child is arrested for an underage DUI or an OVUAC (Operating a Vehicle After Underage Consumption), they face serious consequences that can follow for the rest of their lives, even if no one was ultimately hurt and the amount of alcohol consumed would have been legal for an adult over 21. There is no such thing as a minor underage drinking and driving arrest.
How Is an Underage DUI Different Than an OVI?
The threshold for an underage DUI is much lower than that for an OVI. If you are under the age of 21, a BAC of just .02 or higher is considered to automatically be driving under the influence, rather than the .08 BAC required for an adult. This means that even less than one drink can push some teens over the legal limit. Drinking even a tiny amount of alcohol can result in underage drinking and driving charges; there is considered no safe level of consumption for operating a vehicle if you are under 21.
Other than this no tolerance policy, an underage DUI is investigated and prosecuted much the same as an OVI would be. The only difference is the court procedure itself if the person arrested is under 18. All OVUAC arrests involving a teen under 18 are adjudicated in juvenile court. The teen will attend a disposition hearing where the judge will determine the proper punishment. While less formal than a trial in adult court, the judge has much more leeway to decide on the consequences of the offense, and in some Ohio juvenile courts, less evidence is required to adjudicate a juvenile offender (that is, decide they are guilty).
If you are determined to be guilty of an OVUAC in juvenile court, you face serious consequences. These can include:
- Hundreds of dollars in fines
- Mandatory alcohol treatment
- Mandatory remedial driving courses
- Suspension of your driver’s license for up to two years
- Forced re-test (theory and practical) at the BMV before driving privileges can be reinstated
- Community control (probation)
- Restitution for damages done under the influence
- Community service
- Confinement in a juvenile detention facility
As you can see, these are nothing to scoff at. Even worse, an adjudication for an underage OVI has long term consequences ranging from ineligibility for certain scholarships and university programs to loss of a part-time job due to the loss of a driver’s license. In addition, car insurance rates will jump dramatically after any DUI arrest, but especially in the case of an underage DUI. Most importantly, an OVUAC record cannot be sealed, which means that it can haunt an impulsive teen long into adulthood.
Get Experienced Juvenile Criminal Defense Help for an Underage DUI
If your teen is arrested for an OVUAC or an underage DUI, you probably feel overwhelmed. Although drinking and driving is never ok, teens make stupid mistakes that they should not be punished for the rest of their lives. When your child’s future hangs in the balance, it is important to do everything you can to ensure they are given a fair hearing and protect their best interests.
At Luftman, Heck, and Associates, we have years of experience fighting these types of charges in the juvenile courts. Call Cincinnati juvenile attorney Brad Groene today at or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free consultation on your case to find out how we may be able to help. We will do everything in our power to help your teen get the best outcome possible.