Getting a driver’s license is an exciting time for Georgia teens. There is a profound sense of freedom with being granted the responsibility to get behind the wheel and travel without needing to rely on another person. Still, there are dangers with new drivers. Mistakes are common and these can lead to severe consequences. If, for example, a driver under 21 is confronted with allegations that he or she drove under the influence, it could have a negative impact on their lives in myriad ways. That can include losing driving privileges, fines and jail. This is before thinking about how it can hinder being accepted to certain schools and eligibility for military service.
A legal defense against underage DUI charges is vital, but so too is it important to understand the details of a driver’s license suspension. This is where TADRA (Teenage and Adult Driver Responsibility Act) comes in. With TADRA, a DUI can result in a driver’s license suspension. Unlike adults whose blood-alcohol concentration generally must be 0.08% for there to be a DUI, those under 21 may face charges if they register 0.02%. For the first suspension, if the driver registers between 0.02% and is below 0.08%, the duration will be for six months. For those with a prior conviction for DUI, it will be one year. The driver cannot get any permit to drive during this suspension. Registering 0.08% or above or refusing to submit to a breath test as a driver is legally required to do under Georgia law will spark a suspension for at least 12 months and possibly more.
When there is a second suspension, the driver must have been convicted for a second DUI within five years of the first one. The suspension will be for 18 months. In the first four months, the driver cannot have any permit to drive. After that, it is possible to drive with an ignition interlock device installed in the vehicle for 12 months. In the last two months of the suspension, it might be possible to have a limited permit without the device. A third suspension will categorize the driver as a habitual offender. The driver’s license will be subject to revocation for five years. The ignition interlock device will need to be installed when the person can drive again. For a fourth DUI within 10 years, it is a felony with the possibility of five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
Knowing the potential consequences based on TADRA for an underage DUI is an integral aspect of formulating a strong defense. Parents whose children are arrested and charged with DUI will inevitably want to protect them. While TADRA is in place as a protective device and is meant to dissuade teens from driving after drinking, it is a fact of life that some teens and people under 21 will make mistakes and violate the law.
Just because a teen was arrested for DUI does not mean he or she is guilty. There could have been a viable explanation for the alleged DUI. The breathalyzer machine may have malfunctioned or been used in a way that made its results unreliable. Or the traffic stop itself could have been conducted in a way that violates protocol. A law firm with experience in defending teens for allegations of illegal behavior can be a fundamental part of a successful outcome. Parents who are seeking to shield their teens from long-term problems related to alcohol or a driver’s license suspension under TADRA may want to call for a consultation.