DUI Charges and Minors in Montgomery County

Due to the severity of DUI charges in Maryland and the serious penalties associated with these charges, it is imperative that if you or a loved one has been charged while underage you consult with a Montgomery County Underage DUI lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your case. Call today to learn more.

How DUI Laws Differ For Someone Under 18

If you are under 18, the laws are the same. The officer needs reasonable grounds to initiate the stop and needs probable cause to initiate the arrest. All of the constitutional protections that protect adults are also available to minors as well. What that means is that you can be charged with violating the license restrictions, even if your breath alcohol content is comfortably below a .08 because you have an alcohol restriction on your license that you can’t have .02 or higher. You may not be charged with a DUI, but you will be charged with violating your license restriction.

With that said, the process is going to be completely different. If you are under 18, your case will be heard by the juvenile court which is located in the circuit court. They are typically heard in front of the master, rather than in front of a circuit court judge to find if they are guilty or not guilty. It is completely different from one where an adult is charged in the district court.

How Underage DUI Cases are Treated

These cases are treated very seriously by all parties involved. If an individual is under 18, they have only been able to drive for at most 2 years; for them to have a DUI in the first 2 years of driving, the prosecution is going to take that very seriously. They are very unlikely to dismiss the case and if you are found guilty they are very likely to sentence you to some kind of intensive period of probation to make sure that you have learned your lesson and don’t repeat the behavior.

Are Sentences Typically More Severe?

Due to the fact that it is most likely going to be your first offense, it is very unlikely that you are looking at incarceration for a first-offense DUI—whether you are over 18 or under 18. However, probation can be a lot longer or more onerous if you are under 18.

What Parents Should Know About This Charge

There is probably going to be some kind of license sanction. They should also immediately enroll their child in some kind of alcohol education and treatment. Parents should immediately seek to speak to an attorney so that they can be advised of the facts that are applicable to their specific case.

Importance of Hiring a Montgomery County DUI Lawyer

An attorney can help an individual clear the problem. If it is an underage case, then the attorney can be extremely helpful in presenting mitigating factors to the master at a hearing, so that probation is less onerous and any other kind of sentence is less painful to the individual who is charged.

How Do You Approach Underage DUI Cases?

I ask them exactly the same questions that I would ask an adult. I would try to figure out what is going on with the case. I try to figure out why the individual was contacted, what kind of evidence they gave the police on the scene, and whether they have gone through a breathalyzer. The difference is in the process, but it does not really change how I am going to handle the initial interview with the client.

In every initial interview I do with the client, the goal is to try to gather as much information as I can find about the case. That is the case whether they are over 18, under 18, in district court or circuit court—none of that really makes much of a difference for my initial interview with the client.