Picture this: it’s the last big senior bash before all of your friends head off to different colleges in a few weeks. You want to cut loose, act crazy, and have fun with these people that you might never see again. Good food is on the grill, music is blasting, and the beer is flowing freely. You don’t drink but this seems like a special situation. It’s the last moment before your adult life begins!
When someone makes a toast, you decide to crack open a beer. It’s horrible, and you barely finish it, but at no point are you worried about getting in trouble. After all, what’s one beer, especially when you drank it in private and didn’t cause any harm?
Unfortunately, that’s not how the state of Mississippi sees it. Alcohol is illegal if you’re underage, and driving with even the tiniest bit in your blood can get you a DUI. The blood alcohol level for minors in Mississippi is .02—less than one beer for most people. You weren’t drunk but you were breaking the law, and if you get caught in a DUI roadblock on your way home, you could find yourself charged with driving under the influence.
What’s going to happen? What can you do?
The first and most important thing to do is find an experienced Mississippi DUI attorney as soon as possible. Someone who knows the law and had dealt with cases like yours before is your best chance at having your penalties reduced or your charges dropped altogether, and they can also make you breathe a little bit easier by talking to you about what you’re going to face.
Penalties that Minors Face for a Mississippi DUI
The first thing that you should know is that Mississippi will only treat you like a minor if your blood alcohol level is below the legal adult limit. Blow a .08 or above and you will face the exact same penalties that everyone over age 21 does. That means possible jail time and loss of your license, as well as other penalties.
If, however, you really did just have that one drink and register a blood alcohol level of .02, you will be facing separate charges specifically created for minors in this category. Even though these are technically “reduced,” any good Mississippi DUI attorney will tell you that they are still quite serious and it’s worth fighting to keep the charge off of your record.
First time offenders. The first time you get a DUI between .02 and .08 when you’re under 21, it will result in:
- A fine of $250.
- A driver’s license suspension of 90 days.
- Attendance at an Alcohol Safety Program.
- Possible attendance at a Victim Impact Panel, depending on the discretion of the court.
Second time offenders. The second time you get a DUI between .02 and .08 when you’re under 21, it will result in:
- A fine of up to $500.
- A driver’s license suspension of an entire year.
Third time offenders. The third time you get a DUI between .02 and .08 when you’re under 21, it will result in:
- A fine of $1,000.
- A driver’s license suspension of two years or until you turn 21—whichever timeframe is longer.
How to Fight Against a Minor DUI Charge
Minors have many of the same options available to them that adults do when fighting DUI charges. If you genuinely believe your charges to be false, you should know that there are any number of substances that can cause false positives on blood alcohol level tests, including simple things like mouthwash and asthma inhalers. It’s also true that equipment is sometimes faulty and police officers can make mistakes just like anyone else. Don’t just give up because you think there’s no way to win.
If you were drinking, that doesn’t mean that a good lawyer can’t work to get your penalties reduced by bringing forth evidence to show your good character or illuminate extenuating circumstances. There are many options available to you but the first step is to get an experienced Mississippi DUI attorney on your team.