It is a serious crime for those under age 21 to be caught drinking and driving. Your child could be charged with an Underage Drinking and Driving (UDD) offense if he or she had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) between .02 and .05. If your child had a BAC of .05 or higher, he or she will receive the same punishments as an adult driver, including a Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI) offense or a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) offense.

UDD offense

If your child receives his or her first UDD offense, there are four outcomes the court could decide. Obviously, the best outcome is not guilty, and conviction is the outcome you probably want to help your child avoid. However, because it is your child’s first UDD offense, your child’s lawyer can ask the court for a deferred judgement or deferred sentence in the misdemeanor or traffic infraction areas. Alternatively, your child could be allowed to plead no contest, which means he or she accepts the charge and its consequences without admitting guilt.

The legal consequences for a first time UDD offense may include a fine between $15 and $100 and up to 24 hours of public service. Probation can sometimes also be a part of your child’s sentence.

DUI or DWAI offense

If your child had a BAC of 0.05 or more, he or she will likely receive a DUI or DWAI offense. If it is his or her first DWAI offense, the legal consequences can include $200 to $500 in fines, 24 to 48 hours of public service and between two and 180 days in jail. Probation can sometimes also be part of this sentence.

For a first DUI offense, the penalty is $600 to $800 in fines, 48 to 96 hours of public service, five days to one year of jail time and sometimes probation. There are also various surcharges that are associated with a DUI offense.

Additional considerations

Because your child is under the legal drinking age, he or she could also receive a Minor in Possession (MIP) offense. This comes with its own consequences, which for a first offense can include a fine up to $250, up to 24 hours of community service, an alcohol evaluation, alcohol education or alcohol treatment.

Your child’s college or university may have their own consequences for drunk driving. Typically, when a student faces any criminal charge, a college or university holds a disciplinary hearing. These hearings move quickly and can result in your child being suspended or expelled.

If your underage child is caught drinking and driving, you may be inclined to let the law handle the punishment. However, the result could alter your child’s future forever. This is why it is important to do everything you can to help your child reach his or her best possible outcome in court and at school.