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Underage DC DUI Laws Explained

DC DUI attorney Jason Kalafat discusses DUI charges for those under the age of 21, and what they should expect from criminal proceedings.

What Are DUI Laws For Someone Under 21?

Jason Kalafat: In the District of Columbia, the law holds that if you’re under the age of twenty one, then it is unlawful to operate a motor vehicle with any alcohol in your system. The thought being since it’s unlawful for you to be drinking at all, then you certainly shouldn’t be drinking and driving. So the law does not require that the state prove the same level of impairment as they do with an adult.

If someone under the age of twenty one is contacted by law enforcement when they’re in physical control of the vehicle and the officer believes that the person may have been drinking, then the officer may give them a chemical test-usually a Breathalyzer-to determine whether or not there is any alcohol present. If there is, then by law the person can be convicted of a DUI.

Is The BAC Limit The Same In an Underage DC DUI Case?

Jason Kalafat: No, because with an adult, if their blood alcohol content is .08 or above, then the law deems them to be impaired and therefore guilty of a DWI. But, there’s a presumption that for .05 and above that the person is impaired but not deemed to be statutorily impaired. With an individual under the age of twenty one, any alcohol is deemed to be unlawful, so  they don’t have to prove the impairment.

With that said, if the individual is under twenty one and does have a blood alcohol content that’s at a certain level, in DC it’s .20 or above, then they face the same enhanced penalty as an anybody who is over twenty one years old. This means that at .20, an individual faces a mandatory ten days minimum in jail and individuals under the age of twenty one can still face that enhanced penalty even though they don’t need to have a .08 or above BAC to be charged with a DUI.

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