In the state of Georgia, if you are 16 years old or younger, you are not considered an adult capable of committing a criminal offense. There are certain serious crimes that those over the age of 12 can be tried as adults for, but DUI and other traffic offenses are not among them. If a person under the age of 16 is arrested for a DUI Charge in Georgia, they are more than likely going to Juvenile Court. Juvenile Court offers protection for young people because anything that happens in juvenile court is not part of one’s criminal record and the offenses are not even considered “crimes” under the law. That does not mean however the offenses are without sanctions. Your child will have to report to Juvenile Court in the County in which the offense occurred, and your child is entitled to be represented by a Georgia Juvenile Court Attorney.
What if you are over the age of 16 but not 21?
When you are under 17 years old, in the eyes of the court, you are still a child. If you are 17 years of age or older, your case will not be heard in a juvenile court, but will instead be heard in a municipal, state, or superior court and you will be sentenced as an adult. However, if you are under the age of 17 at the time of the arrest, no matter how old you are at the time of your court date, your case will be heard in a juvenile court.
Having a criminal record no matter your age can affect your ability to get into college, remain in good standing at school, qualify for financial aid and student loans, auto insurance, home loans, as well as affect your future employment opportunities.
A juvenile can be charged with DUI in Georgia if his or her blood alcohol concentration is 0.02 grams or more within 3 hours of driving, significantly lower than the blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 grams or more required if you are age 21 or older. In fact, Georgia law states that you are presumed to not be under the influence of alcohol if you have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.05 grams or less. That means that juveniles can be convicted of DUI when they were not actually impaired.
For teenage drivers who are convicted of DUI, if your blood alcohol concentration was less that 0.08 grams percent, the test results were suppressed, or if you refused to submit to the State-administered breath test, the license suspension period is 6 months. If your BAC was 0.08 grams percent or more, the license suspension period is 12 months. No limited use driving permit or early reinstatement is available to any driver under the age of 21. If this was your first DUI arrest, but your driver’s license had previously been suspended due to an offense requiring a mandatory suspension such as hit & Run, reckless driving, or any offense for which four or more points are assessable, the suspension period after a DUI conviction will be 12 months regardless of whether you submitted to a test or your blood alcohol level.
It is so important that your child has the appropriate representation if they have been charged with a Juvenile DUI Charge in Georgia. It’s critical you have the right support and a legal guide to protect them against a life long charge that can follow them. Contact the Howard Law Group if your child is facing DUI charges. We are here to help.