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Underage Drinking and Driving

UNDERAGE DRINKING CAN HAVE SURPRISING CONSEQUENCES

In Georgia, as in many states around the country, alcohol-related offenses for minors can often result in a suspension of driving privileges. This is true even though the offense with which the minor is charged has nothing to do with driving under the influence of alcohol. The rationale for this seemingly illogical pairing of an alcohol-related offense with a motor vehicle-related penalty is that underage drinking is a serious problem and one of the few ways to get minors to take it seriously is to put at risk something they really value: their ability to drive.

Another way of looking at the pairing of alcohol-related offenses of minors with motor vehicle related penalties is that underage drinking too often does lead to driving under the influence. Call it a preventative penalty, a scare tactic, an attention grabber, or whatever you want, but suspending driving privileges for certain underage drinking offenses is the law.

ALCOHOL-RELATED OFFENSES FOR MINORS…THAT MAY COST THEM THEIR LICENSE

If someone under 21 is convicted of purchasing alcohol, he/she will have their driving privileges suspended for 6 months. For a second conviction, driving privileges will be suspended for 12 months.

If someone under 21 is convicted of possession of an alcoholic beverage, he/she will have their driving privileges suspended for 4 months. However, if the possession was not while operating a motor vehicle, the offense should not be reported to the Department of Driver Services, and therefore should not result in a license suspension. If the offense is reported, the Department will presume that the possession was committed while operating a motor vehicle and suspend driving privileges.

ZERO TOLERANCE

Georgia is a zero tolerance state, meaning that anyone under 21 is not allowed any amount of alcohol or controlled substances in their system when driving. What this translates to is the following:

For minors less than 15 years old who register above a .02% on a breathalyzer: license suspension until 17 years old; $210 fine; DUI or Drug risk reduction program and associated costs;

For minors ages 16-20 years old who register less than .08%: a 6 month license suspension; for those who register greater than .08%: a 12 month license suspension, both offenses receiving a $210 fine, and a DUI alcohol or drug risk reduction program as well.

LIMITED DRIVING PERMITS

Even if your license is suspended, you may be able to obtain a Limited Driving Permit. A LLP allows a person to drive to and from employment and to perform work-related tasks; to drive to doctor appointments and fill prescriptions; to drive to school; and to drive to treatment programs, support group meetings, etc.

CONTACT YOUR ATTORNEY

If you or someone you know is under 21 years old and has been charged with an alcohol-related offense, contact Dave Thomas at The Thomas Law Firm for a free consultation regarding your legal rights.

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Thomas Law Firm
Located at 945 East Paces Ferry Road, Resurgens Plaza, GA 30326.

Phone: (678) 264-8348.
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