Interviewer: As far as penalties go, and for being on their record, is it the same as an adult DUI? Will it be on the record forever?
Brian Sloan: It will be on the record forever. If they were to get another DUI within the next 7 years, the driving under the age of 21 with alcohol in the body would not be considered a prior DUI offense. If convicted for being under the age of 21 with alcohol in the body while driving, it is not going to be used as a prior DUI to get someone a harsher penalty if they were to get charged with a DUI in the future.
What Happens to People Between the Ages of 18 & 21?
Interviewer: Is there any significant difference if they were in between the age of 18 and 21, as opposed to under 18, when it pertains to driving under the age of 21 with alcohol in the body?
Brian Sloan: With 18 year olds and under there can be a difference. I’ve seen a few of those cases. When someone is 18, 19, or 20 years old, their license does get suspended for 2 years upon conviction. It is possible to negotiate a plea agreement where a person pleads guilty to an over-the-age-of-21 DUI. In doing so, their license is suspended for only 90 days, not two years.
When someone under the age of 18 is charged with driving with alcohol in the body and being under the age of 21, even if we are able to negotiate a plea agreement to a first-time DUI, the Motor Vehicle Division will pay attention to the person’s age. They will suspend the license for 2 years, regardless of what is actually pled guilty to.
If someone is 18, 19, or 20 years old, the Motor Vehicle Division doesn’t really pay attention that they are under 21. If someone is under the age of 18, then they are paying close attention.
Interviewer: Brian, what would you say are some of the common misconceptions that clients under the age of 21 have in regards to DUIs?
Brian Sloan: They think it’s not a big deal. They’re an adult in the eyes of the law. They’re over the age of 18. They can vote; they can smoke. Why shouldn’t they be allowed to drink alcohol? Most people are shocked that they could lose their license for 2 years. It’s the standing of our law. It really doesn’t make sense in the general scheme of things that you can vote, you can smoke, you can serve your country, but you’re not allowed to consume alcohol. The license issue seems to be the most surprising and shocking to people.
Interviewer: With people under 21, do you end up dealing with the client’s parents?
Brian Sloan: Usually the parents are involved. Sometimes people are trying to hide things from their parents. Involved parents are a good sign. I normally recommend counseling, if someone is under the age of 21, with alcohol in their body. It doesn’t make them bad people, and I believe it needs to be a family decision.
I don’t mean to intrude on family decisions. However, if someone is at the point where they’re under the age of 21, they have alcohol, or drugs, or medications in their system, and they’re facing charges, they are part of the judicial system, then I think there needs to be a family discussion about getting that person into counseling. This benefits them personally, in the court system and I think it can benefit them in the eyes of the prosecutor.