It is against the law to consume alcohol if you are under 21 years old in West Chester, Pennsylvania. Therefore, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle if you are underage and under the influence of alcohol. The charge for underage drinking and driving is often referred to as DUI Under 21 or underage DUI.
At DiCindio Law LLC, our West Chester DUI lawyer has considerable experience handling drunk driving cases. In addition, he was a prosecutor for Chester County, so he understands how prosecutors approach under-21 DUI charges.
If you or your child is charged with DUI, contact our West Chester DUI lawyer for a free consultation at (610) 430-3535. The potential consequences for underage drinking and driving could have substantial consequences for your future.
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How Our West Chester Criminal Defense Lawyers Help You With Underage DUI Charges
Since 2010, DiCindio Law LLC has represented clients throughout West Chester and the surrounding areas. Our legal team pursues every legal defense and strategy to win your case. You deserve to be treated with respect and fairness throughout the criminal justice process.
When you hire our award-winning lawyer to handle your DUI case, you can expect us to:
- Investigate the DUI charge against you to determine if police misconduct or errors violated your legal rights
- Examine and analyze the evidence the state has against you to develop an effective DUI defense strategy
- Interview witnesses, subpoena evidence, and consult expert witnesses
- Challenge the results of breath and blood tests for BAC levels
- Keep you informed about the status of your case and discuss options with you to resolve your case
- Aggressively negotiate with the prosecutor for a fair plea deal when going to court is not a wise option
- Take your case to court if that is the best option and strongly advocate for your innocence
Do not assume you must plead guilty to your charges without talking with a West Chester DUI lawyer. Instead, contact our law office to schedule a free case review with an experienced underage DUI attorney in West Chester, PA.
Pennsylvania’s Underage DUI Laws
Pennsylvania has a zero-tolerance law for drivers under the age of 21 years old. Minors are prohibited from operating a motor vehicle with any alcohol in their system. A minor is defined under this section as anyone under the age of 21 years old.
The juvenile court system handles DUI Under 21 cases involving drivers under 18 years old. The minor is charged with a summary offense resulting in a three-month driver’s license suspension and a $100 fine. A minor generally qualifies for a consent decree program, so they are eligible to have the underage DUI arrest expunged from their criminal record.
However, minors between the ages of 18 years and 21 years old are sentenced under the same terms as adults for DUI convictions.
What Are the Penalties for an Under-21 DUI in West Chester if You Are 18 Years Old or Older?
Pennsylvania DUI laws divide drunk driving charges into three categories:
- General Impairment DUI – The person has a BAC level of .08% to .099% or sufficient alcohol in their system to impair their ability to operate a motor vehicle.
- High Rate of Alcohol – The person’s BAC level is between .10% to .159%.
- Highest Rate of Alcohol – The person’s BAC level is over .16%.
The penalties for driving under the influence are based on the BAC level. The penalties increase as the person’s BAC level increases. However, a person under the age of 21 but over 18 years old can be sentenced to the same penalties for a High Rate of Alcohol even though their BAC is as low as .02%.
The penalties for an underage adult driver for a first-offense DUI Under 21 at the High BAC level are:
- Suspended driver’s license for one year
- Between 48 hours and six months in jail
- A fine between $500 and $5,000
- Attending Alcohol Highway Safety School
- Installation of an ignition interlock device for one year
A first or second-offense DUI Under 21 charge for minors between 18 and 21 years old is an ungraded misdemeanor. A third offense is a first-degree misdemeanor, and a fourth offense is a third-degree felony. The penalties increase with each subsequent conviction for underage DUI.
Depending on the circumstances, underage drivers could be charged with the Highest BAC level. If so, they face extremely harsh penalties for a conviction.
Drivers over 18 years old charged with DUI Under 21 could qualify for the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition Program (ARD). The diversionary program avoids jail time and focuses more on rehabilitation than punishment.
Do not plead guilty to underage DUI charges without talking to a DUI attorney in West Chester. There could be defenses to the DUI charges that might result in a dismissal or reduction of charges.
Contact Us To Schedule a Free Consultation With a West Chester Under 21 DUI Lawyer
We want to help you with your DUI charges. Our criminal defense lawyers provide honest assessments of your case and sound legal advice to help you determine what action could give you the best chance of beating DUI charges. Call now for a free consultation with our West Chester under-21 DUI lawyer.