My Teenager Got a DWI. Now what?
It’s a typical weekend night and the phone rings. It’s a call no parent wants to get: Your teenager has just been arrested for a DWI offense.
Realistically, we parents know there will be times when our kids don’t make the right choices or get caught in bad situations. We know that as they grow up, they might experiment with alcohol. Who doesn’t remember the pressure to drink and party in high school and college? Even so, we hope our teenager has the sense to keep themselves and others safe.
But let’s face it: They are still kids. And sometimes kids have to learn the hard way to learn at all.
In Minnesota, a DUI is referred to as DWI, or driving while impaired. For adults, it is illegal for anyone to drive with a blood alcohol concentration over 0.08 percent. It is illegal for anyone under age 21 to drive after drinking any alcohol in Minnesota and all US states. When it comes to DWIs, navigating what comes next can be just as scary for the parent as it is for the young driver.
The office of Minnesota DWI defense lawyer Gerald Miller is here to help you and your child.. Call us today at 612-440-4610. Contact us anytime. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to give you some answers, a little hope and plenty of well-deserved peace of mind. A DWI defense for drivers under 18 can have different factors in play than adult DWI cases We will answer all of your questions, including how a conviction will affect your child’s future. The team at Gerald Miller, P.A. will do everything we can to get the charges reduced or dismissed.
Teenagers and DUI/DWI
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in ten high school students have admitted to drinking and driving. Your teenager is certainly not alone. Teenagers often don’t understand the effect alcohol has on their ability to function, much less drive. The statistics are startling:
- 85% of teens in high school who report drinking and driving in the past month also say they binge drank. In the survey, binge drinking was defined as having 5 or more alcoholic drinks within a couple of hours.
- 1 in 5 teen drivers involved in fatal crashes had some alcohol in their system in 2010. Most of these drivers (81%) had BACs* higher than the legal limit for adults.
- Teen drivers are three times more likely than experienced motorists to be involved in a fatal crash, the CDC reports, and alcohol increases that risk.
- In a national survey conducted in 2011, 24 percent of teens reported that within the previous month, they had ridden with a driver who had been drinking alcohol.
- In 2010, 56 percent of teens killed in drinking and driving accidents were not wearing their seat belts.
Experts say the best way to prevent teen drinking and driving – or stop them from riding with a drunk driver – is to educate your children. Recent studies have shown that the fear of arrest is a bigger deterrent than the idea of being hurt or killed in a crash. (The same is true for adults.) So if the fear of harm doesn’t stop them from drinking and driving, the idea of big legal trouble might. The good news is, the percentage of high school students who drink and drive has decreased by 53 percent since 1991.
What should you do if your child has been arrested for DWI?
In Minnesota, most drivers ages 16 and 17 years old who are arrested for a DWI violation are charged as adults – not juveniles. Because of this, your child may be subject to adult penalties and consequences. However, you should know that your teenager has the same rights in the legal system as adults. The prosecutor still has the burden of proof, including that your teen was behind the wheel and that law enforcement had a legitimate reason for the traffic stop. Even if your child’s case involved minimal or no serious damage to others, a DWI arrest can create larger problems for your teen later. Let us help you and your child fight the DWI in court.
Once you’ve received that phone call, the next call you should make is to us. Minnesota DWI defense lawyer Gerald Miller and his team can help defend your teens case and his or her rights. We may be able to get their charges reduced, depending on the circumstances of their case.
The Minneapolis lawyers at Gerald Miller, PA handle all aspects of criminal law across the Twin Cities and statewide. We can help you and your teenager put a Minnesota DWI arrest to rest – and protect their right to drive.
Next, talk with your child right away. With youth comes inexperience. Make sure they know that you are there for them and that help is on the way. The emotional stress of an arrest combined with whatever residual impairment they may have can cause them to be afraid. And in that fear, they may say or do something that could impact their case.
Minnesota’s Zero Tolerance Law
Our Minneapolis DWI attorneys frequently talk to misinformed teenagers who assume that they do not have to worry about facing serious repercussions because they blew a 0.7 or lower. Unfortunately, the worst time to learn they are wrong is when an officer is pulling them over.
Minnesota DWI law for underage drivers includes a “zero tolerance” policy. According to this law, a driver younger than 21 years of age who is detected either “operating” or “in control” of a motor vehicle with any measurable amount of alcohol in his or her body will be subject to special penalties.
If arrested and charged, the young person risks severe penalties against their driving privileges if the prosecutor is able to prove the charges. The motorist’s driver’s license will be suspended for thirty days for a first offense and 180 days for a second offense.
The situation goes from bad to worse for underage motorists with a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 percent or above. Along with the penalties indicated above, they also are subject to the full spectrum of penalties that can be imposed.
Underage Drunk Driving Has Steeper Penalties For Those Under 18
While all drivers under the age of 21 can lose their driver’s license if convicted of driving with a detectable amount of alcohol in their body, the situation can get worse for anyone under the age of 18. If your teen has already obtained his or her driver’s license, it will be suspended if any amount of measurable alcohol is detected when they take a breath or blood test.
Further, your child will not be able to reacquire their license until they turn 18. At that time, your child will have to start over in obtaining a driver’s license.
If your child has not obtained a driver’s license (i.e. learner’s permit only) when they are cited for violating the zero tolerance law, they also will lose their permit and must wait until they are 18 to start the application process over again.
Furthermore, just like with adults, a DWI or DUI arrest and conviction will remain a black mark on your teen’s driving record their entire life. That idea alone is cringe-worthy at best. It’s important that you contact a Minnesota DWI attorney right after your son or daughter is cited for a DWI.
Your child being arrested for a DWI is scary for both of you. There are a lot of questions and a lot of things to consider. The most important thing to keep in mind is that you are not alone. We are here to help you and help protect your child’s rights.
About Gerald Miller, P.A.
Were you or someone you love arrested for DWI? The process can be worrisome – or even frightening. There is a lot of legal jargon to weave through and court dates to attend.
You’re not alone. We can help, whether it’s your first DWI or if you’ve been convicted in the past.
If you are facing a Minnesota DWI conviction, the experienced Minneapolis DWI attorneys at Gerald Miller, P.A. will review your case and determine the best course of action. We will guide you through the process, working toward a positive outcome no matter the circumstances of the arrest. Our firm has a high success rate. We’ve fought cases all the way to the Minnesota Supreme Court. We dig into every aspect of the case, from the time of the arrest the officer’s actions to the accuracy of your Breathalyzer test.
What makes Gerald Miller different from other Minnesota criminal defense lawyers?
The Minneapolis lawyers at Gerald Miller handle all aspects of criminal law across the Twin Cities and statewide, but we have focused on DWIs for nearly 40 years. A DWI affects your driving ability, your finances, and your professional reputation. Don’t let one mistake negatively impact your future.
We have earned dozens of positive Google, Yelp and Facebook reviews from satisfied clients. Our firm is widely recognized throughout the Twin Cities for our professionalism, compassion, knowledge, and dedication both in and out of the courtroom. The Minneapolis DWI attorneys at Gerald Miller DWI Law Firm are respected by our peers, colleagues, judges, and prosecutors. We have earned national awards and accolades from the American Bar Association, The National Trial Lawyers, the American Institute of DWI/DUI Attorneys, the National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys, the National Academy for DUI Defense, and more.
Gerald Miller, P.A. also has received the elite “SuperLawyer” distinction by Thomson Reuters.
Legal Counsel is Critical to Success
The sooner you contact us, the faster we can start protecting your rights. Even if your case cannot be dismissed, the charges may be reduced, which is a positive outcome. First-time offenders have a stronger chance than repeat offenders to see their charges reduced or dismissed. Some prosecutors will consider reducing a DWI charge to careless driving if the defendant has no prior offenses, a BAC under 0.10, and a good driving record. It also helps if you were cooperative at the time of your arrest and if you followed the court’s requirements prior to your hearing, including completing an alcohol assessment and/or DWI classes.
Contact us today to schedule your free and confidential case evaluation at 612-430-6743. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to give you some answers, a little hope, and plenty of well-deserved peace of mind. Visit geraldmillerlawyer.com or check us out on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.