DUI Charges and Minors Under The Age of 18

The following is information you should know if you or a family member are facing charges of driving under the influence in Maryland as a minor. For more information call and schedule a consultation with a Maryland underage DUI lawyer today.

How Is A DUI Charge Different For Someone Under 18?

The big difference for people under 18 is that their case will be tried in the juvenile court rather than in the district court. The juvenile courts are part of the circuit court. There specially trained masters sit, rather than circuit court judges, to hear the cases. The state attorney’s office is still present and still prosecutes the case and rather than a finding of guilt, the juvenile court issues a finding of delinquency. So those are some of the big differences between a juvenile court and regular courts.

Additionally, they should expect that the process will be different than a typical District Court case. However, they should expect that they will still need to complete a program of alcohol education and treatment prior to court. They should also expect a potential penalty against their driver’s license that may possibly be more severe than the penalty that they would experience if they were over 21 years of age.

Treatment By Prosecutors and Judges

Prosecutors in juvenile courts just like prosecutors in the district court take these cases very seriously. They are usually not inclined to drop the case unless there are some major issues with their ability to secure a finding of guilt, or delinquency. Due to the fact that you’re in the juvenile system, probation before judgment isn’t really the same type of issue as it is in the adult criminal system because juvenile records will ultimately be sealed. So some of the issues are a little different. There is a possibility of incarceration for DUIs for juveniles just like there is for adults.  However, usually because juveniles are first offenders, incarceration is very much the exception, not the rule.

Importance of Hiring An Attorney

Well, just like in an overage DUI case, an attorney is of great help in first challenging the state’s case in helping somebody get an acquittal or a finding of not delinquent, if they can cause the State not to be able to prove the case.  Additionally, an attorney can help with mitigation, with presenting the case in the best light to the judge and can help with certain procedural matters that individuals who aren’t trained attorneys wouldn’t be aware of.  Also, there are driver’s license penalties that come into effects for people and an attorney can be a great assistance in explaining those and helping to minimize those.

First Things An Attorney Will Ask in an Underage DUI Case

The first thing that I ask anyone who is charged with a DUI whether they’re under 18 or over 18 is to tell me what happened, to describe the details of the stop, to describe the details of their contact with the officer and then everything that happened that evening from their perspective. Usually, that’s when we start building up the picture of the case. Obviously, I’m going to be reviewing all of the paperwork that they’ve received from the officer as well to begin formulating a picture of the case.

What Parents Should Know

Well, they should expect this process will take some time, that it will take several months, at least, to resolve the case.  They should expect that their child will enroll and attending complete some type of alcohol educational and  treatment subsequent to the incident.  The other things to expect would really depend on the fact and circumstances of the case. They should expect to have to talk to an attorney and then be listening to what the attorney says and to guide their child through the process.