The Oregon court system does not shrug its shoulders and say “kids will be kids” when someone underage is charged with driving under the influence. Minors under the age of 21 and juveniles under the age of 18 are often hit with the same consequences as adults when convicted of a DUII. This can include fines, jail time, and the loss of driving privileges. 

However, the corollary consequences of an underage DUII go much further, often impacting schooling, work opportunities, and even your social status. If you want to limit the damage an underage DUII charge will do to the rest of your life — or the rest of your child’s life — it is important to put up a strong defense. 

Attempting to clear your name and move forward with your life is the best way to take responsibility for your actions and ensure a single mistake does not haunt you for years to come. There is nothing to gain by letting the government make an example of you, especially if the charges against you are improper. 

Attorney Michael R. Hughes is a seasoned criminal defense attorney who knows the ins and outs of Oregon’s DUII laws. He has extensive experience defending people of all ages against both alcohol and drug DUII.  He is ready to advise you of what steps to take if you have been blindsided by an underage DUII charge. 

What Is An Underage DUII? 

In Oregon, drunk or drugged driving is formally known as driving under the influence of intoxicants (DUII). But sometimes people call it drinking and driving, driving while intoxicated (DWI), driving under the influence (DUI), operating under the influence (OUI), operating while intoxicated (OWI), driving while ability impaired (DWAI), or a more colorful nickname. No matter what you call it. It is a serious offense. 

There are a couple of different ways the state can go about charging someone under the age of 21 with a DUII. 

The first is by blood alcohol testing. Most drivers can have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of up to .08 and be considered sober. But not underage drivers. Oregon has a zero tolerance law for drivers under the age of 21. This means that underage drivers will be charged with a DUII if they have any detectable level of alcohol in their system. 

No matter what your age, you can be charged with a DUII if law enforcement officials suspect you have been drinking or using another intoxicant, AND your physical or mental facilities are adversely affected to a noticeable or perceptible degree. In this scenario it does not matter what your BAC is. Officers will likely try to back up their suspicion by performing field sobriety or urine testing. 

Whether you are charged with a DUII because your BAC was over .00, or an officer simply believed you were under the influence of an intoxicant, Attorney Hughes can help you fight to clear your good name. 

Criminal Offenses Related To Underage DUII

A DUII is not the only offense you may be charged with if you pulled over for underage drinking. Underage drivers and passengers may be cited for being in the mere presence of alcohol. 

ORS 471.430 prohibits minors from possessing, consuming, or attempting to purchase alcohol. Riding in a car with others who are consuming alcohol can be considered a violation of this statute. 

If there is an open container of alcohol in the passenger compartment, every person in the vehicle may be cited for violating Oregon’s Open Container Law, ORS 811.170

These two offenses are often connected to DUIIs, and sometimes they are confused for one another. They are all separate crimes, and it is possible for an underage driver to be charged with all three offenses at the same time. 

Oregon Imposes Serious Consequences for Underage DUII Convictions 

An underage DUII is not a simple mistake, it is a choice that can haunt you for the rest of your life. 

If you are convicted, you will pay a fine. You may also be sentenced to:

  • Jail time
  • Probation
  • Community service; and
  • Mandatory drug and alcohol evaluation and treatment.

The court may also:

  • Order you not to drink alcohol, or use or possess drugs.
  • Take away your license.
  • Charge you court costs and fees on top of the mandatory fine.
  • Install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle. 
  • Require you to attend a victim impact panel where you hear from the families of those who were killed by impaired drivers. 

The judge in your case may impose additional penalties that are even more severe if your behavior at the time of arrest is considered an “aggravated DUII.” You will likely have the book thrown at you if you:

  • Caused an accident resulting in bodily injury or death;
  • Damaged public or private property;
  • Had a BAC over 0.15; or 
  • Had a passenger in the vehicle who was younger than 18 AND at least three years younger than the driver. 

This last one can come into play in situations where an underage driver was behind the wheel, cruising around with younger friends or family members. 

Even if you are not convicted, the consequences of a DUII charge are far-reaching. 

High school students can face in-school punishments like being kicked off of sports teams. Colleges may reject applicants accused of driving while intoxicated, or limit the availability of financial assistance. And prospective employers often do a background check that reveals DUII charges as well as convictions. 

With so much at stake, it is crucial that you have a dedicated advocate in your corner who can help you clear your name and protect your future.

An Attorney Who Understands Your Side

If you are charged with a DUII before you turn 21 the Oregon legal system isn’t going to treat you like a kid, and neither will Attorney Michael R. Hughes. 

Based on the facts of your case, Attorney Hughes will advise you of the likely consequences of your alleged actions, and discuss what options you have going forward. He won’t sugarcoat the situation or make decisions on your behalf, but he will guide you through this difficult time in your life and help you to move forward. 

Please contact him today to schedule an initial consultation.