Heading off to college can bring children newfound freedom. In many cases, this newfound freedom involves attending parties and trying alcohol.
Children have their whole future ahead of them while at college, but underage drinking and OUIs can put that future at risk. Parents and children alike must be aware of those risks.
Here is what parents should know about underage OUIs.
What happens if your child is charged with an OUI?
Massachusetts has a zero-tolerance policy for underage drinking and driving. After all, it is not only illegal to drink and drive, but it is also illegal to even consume alcohol under the age of 21. That is why the BAC limit for underage drivers is set at 0.02%. Anything higher than that can make penalties increase exponentially.
Underage OUIs generally result in harsh consequences, including:
- Immediate license suspension: If individuals under 21 are charged with an OUI, police will take away their driver’s license immediately. They will then notify the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) of the suspension. Underage OUIs always involve license suspension of at least 30 days, but this could extend to anywhere between 180 days or three years, depending on the circumstances.
- Participation in the Youth Alcohol Program (YAP): License suspension for underage OUIs is conducted through YAP under Massachusetts law. Young people charged with an OUI must complete the program and the license suspension before they can recover their driving privileges.
- A charge on the child’s permanent record: The charges might differ depending on your child’s age and the circumstances of the OUI, but regardless, an underage OUI will remain on their permanent record for the rest of their life. It is possible to seal these records, but this is also why it is critical to fight the charges.
What can parents do?
Prevention is often the best strategy when it comes to driving under the influence. It can be helpful to speak with your children and ensure they understand that these consequences could impact their entire life.
However, in the event your child faces an underage OUI charge, it is critical to know that:
- You can appeal the charges before the district court, especially since Massachusetts’ Breathalyzer tests have come into question this year; and
- You should contact an experienced defense lawyer as soon as possible.
Preserving your child’s rights and future is of the utmost importance, and one mistake should not jeopardize that.