In the State of Alabama, individuals under the legal drinking age are held to a more stringent standard than those over the legal drinking age. As most people know, the legal drinking age in the State of Alabama is 21.
There are a couple instances where underage drinkers may be prosecuted for DUI. The first of these instances are when an underage drinker submits to a test to determine their blood alcohol content (BAC). The elements in these case are 1) the underage drinker was driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle and 2) a BAC of .02% or higher. It should be noted that those individuals above the legal drinking age can have a BAC of .08% or lower.
Those underage drinkers who’s BAC falls between .02% and .08% shall have their license suspended for 30 days on their first offense. In reading the current Alabama law, it does not appear that these individuals are subject to penalties such as fines, imprisonment, or a 90-day suspension of their license.
For an underage drinker who’s BAC registers above a .08%, additional penalties can apply. In these cases, the court may also give the underage driver a fine and place them in a court referral program. A court referral program often requires an individual to go through counseling, participate in random drug testing, and undergo any other treatment programs recommended by the referral officer.
The second of these instances is when the underage drinker refuses to submit to chemical testing. In these cases, the underage drinker would be charged under Ala. Code §32-5A-191(a)(2). Under this statute, the prosecutor must show that the driver consumed alcohol to the extent that it rendered them incapable of safely operating a vehicle. Under this provision of the DUI law, there are no special punishments reserved for underage drinkers. In these circumstances, the underage driver would be subject to a fine, imprisonment, suspension of their driver’s license for 90 days, and/or placement in a court referral program.
You should contact a knowledgeable DUI attorney if you are arrested for underage DUI. There are several defenses available in any DUI case. The attorneys at Parkman & White, LLC are well versed in the DUI law and the applicable DUI defenses.