As a teen, it is easy to get swept up in the rhetoric that everyone your age drinks and it is nothing to worry about. You hear about people getting DUIs or dying in drunk driving accidents, yet assume it will not happen to you. What are your chances of getting into trouble? Unfortunately, drinking as an adolescent is dangerous and getting behind the wheel with any alcohol in your system significantly increases the chance of being arrested or causing a serious accident. Additionally, the Indiana zero tolerance law will ensure you are in a great deal of trouble, even if no one gets hurt.
If you make the mistake of drinking and driving, contact an Indianapolis underage drinking lawyer from Hessler Law at (317) 886-8800. Sean Hessler understands that accidents happen and will strive to avoid a conviction and criminal record for you.
Indiana Rules on Underage Drinking
If you are 20-years-old or younger, you should not be drinking alcohol. This can seem like a harsh rule when your older friends are going to bars and purchasing beer and wine without you. It can seem like very little separates you from your friends who can lawfully drink. Yet no matter what you think of the rules, they are in place for a reason. As a young person, your brain and body will not tolerate alcohol the same way as someone older. You are more likely to make questionable decisions and put yourself and others in harm’s way. Studies have shown that alcohol can negatively impact your education, relationships with family and friends, and extracurricular activities like sports and music.
That is why Indiana has a zero-tolerance policy on underage drinking – and there are no exceptions. If you are found possessing, transporting, consuming, or buying alcohol with a fake ID or trying to do one of these things while underage, you are likely to face criminal charges. It does not matter if no one got hurt, you were not driving, or you were in a place with alcohol but not personally imbibing. If you are between the ages of 18 to 20, you may be charged with a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a one-year license suspension, up to 60 days in jail, and $500 fine. This will also give you a criminal record.
Drinking as a Minor
If you are 17 years old or younger, your underage drinking offense will head to the juvenile court system. This court system works a bit differently than the adult court system. You will face allegations of minor consumption or of committing a delinquent act and go through a hearing similar to a trial where a judge hears evidence. If the judge finds the evidence supports that you were drinking, you may be adjudicated a delinquent juvenile, punishable by probation, community service, alcohol or substance abuse treatment, restitution to any victims of your crime, or removal to a foster or group home.
Underage Drinking and Driving
If you are pulled over and an officer has reason to believe you have been drinking, you will be arrested on underage drinking charges. You will be required to submit to a chemical test, which could include a breathalyzer or blood test. If the chemical test shows .02 percent or more alcohol in your body, you may be formally charged with a DUI. The legal limit of .08 percent is only for individuals 21 years and older. If your BAC is between .02 and .08 percent, you may be charged with a Class C infraction, which is punishable by a fine and up to one-year license suspension. If you have a high BAC above .08 percent, you will face a harsher charge.
Zero Tolerance Policy Encompasses Drugged Driving
Indiana’s zero tolerance policy also encompasses illegal drug use. If you are caught with a controlled substance, such as marijuana, cocaine, meth, nonprescription opioids, or heroin, you will be charged with a crime. If you are determining to have any amount of an illegal drug in your body while driving, you will face a DUI. Being young will not stop prosecutors from charging you with the harshest offense possible.
Contact an Indianapolis Underage Drinking Lawyer for Help
You are young and bound to make mistakes from time to time. These adolescent errors do not have to result in a permanent criminal record or punishments that will put you behind in school. Your best option when facing an underage drinking charge is to work with a skilled and resourceful defense attorney like Sean Hessler. He knows Indiana law and the best strategies for having charges dropped, proving your innocence, or minimizing the consequences of a conviction.