DUI Under 21 in Louisiana

Shreveport-Bossier Criminal Defense Attorney for Underage DUI Charges

While drinking is certainly a big part of Louisiana culture, Louisiana law takes drinking while driving very seriously, especially when it comes to underage drivers. Even if they only have one drink, an underage person could be charged with an underage DUI in Louisiana if they get behind the wheel of their car with alcohol in their system.

In Louisiana, an underage DWI could result in fines, a jail sentence, or both. That’s why it’s crucial to have an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side who will fight vigorously to protect your rights and future. 

If you have been charged with underage driving while intoxicated, contact Shreveport DUI attorney Michael J. Vergis today. With years of experience defending clients against DUI charges, Attorney Vergis understands the serious implications an underage DUI conviction can have on your life and is prepared to help fight the charges against you.

Contact our law office today at (318) 698-3724 or reach out online to schedule a free consultation with Attorney Vergis regarding your case. 

louisiana underage DUI laws

What’s the Drinking Age in Louisiana?

In Louisiana, the drinking age is 21 years of age or older. This is in line with federal law, which outlaws alcohol consumption and possession for those under the age of 21. 

Louisiana Drinking Age With Parents

Louisiana’s underage drinking laws prevent people under the age of 21 from purchasing and publically possessing alcohol. However, there are certain exceptions to these laws. Under state law, a minor can possess an alcoholic beverage if:

  • They are accompanied by a parent, spouse, or legal guardian over the age of 21;
  • It is for an established religious purpose;
  • It is purchased as an over-the-counter medication prescribed by a licensed medical professional;
  • They are in a private residence, with or without supervision; or
  • They work in a restaurant or for a beverage provider and are handling alcoholic beverages as a part of their work duties.

There is no age at which any of these exceptions would not apply.

Louisiana Underage DWI Laws

Underage drinking and driving is outlawed by La R.S. § 14.98.6, titled “Underage Operating While Intoxicated.” The law states that no underage person should operate any motor vehicle, aircraft, watercraft, vessel, or other means of conveyance with a blood alcohol content of over 0.02 percent.

Blood Alcohol Concentration Limits for Underage Drivers

In Louisiana, if the operator’s blood alcohol concentration is over 0.02 percent and the driver is under the age of 21, they could face underage DUI charges. A BAC of 0.02 percent is about equivalent to one standard alcoholic drink. For comparison, the legal alcohol limit for adults over the age of 21 is 0.08 percent BAC, which is equivalent to about four standard alcoholic drinks. 

Additionally, if the driver is underage, and their BAC is above the legal limit of 0.08 percent, they can be charged as an adult and face more serious punishments. Underage drivers with a BAC of over 0.15 percent may even face enhanced DUI charges

underage DUI charges in louisiana

What Happens if You Get a DUI Under 21?

If you are charged with an underage DWI in Louisiana (meaning your BAC was above 0.02 percent and below 0.08 percent), you could face fines and jail time. The punishments for underage DWI charges depend on whether or not it is your first DUI offense

  • First-time conviction: fines between $100 and $250, imprisonment between 10 days and 3 months, or both. 
  • Second or subsequent conviction: fines between $250 and $500, imprisonment between 30 days and 6 months, or both. 

In some situations, the court may decide to suspend your jail sentence in exchange for being placed on probation and participating in community service, a court-approved substance abuse program, and a driver education program. Additionally, you could lose your right to drive during your probation period, unless you are operating a vehicle with a functioning ignition interlocking system. 

If you are caught with a BAC of 0.08 percent or more, you could be charged as an adult, regardless of your age. This could result in higher fines, longer prison sentences, and other consequences like license suspension. 

Additional Consequences for Underage Drinking and Driving

In addition to the criminal penalties, an underage DWI conviction can negatively impact multiple aspects of a young person’s life. A criminal conviction could tarnish your reputation and place a mark on your criminal record, which can affect your ability to find meaningful employment and receive certain educational opportunities. 

Additionally, an underage DWI can affect your driving privileges for a period of time, which can have a negative impact on many different aspects of your life. These are just a few of the many reasons why it’s important to avoid receiving an underage DWI conviction. A Bossier City/Shreveport criminal defense attorney like Michael J. Vergis can help you avoid being convicted of a DUI, protecting your freedom as well as your future.

shreveport under 21 dui lawyer

The Legal Process for Underage DUI Offenders

If you have been arrested for underage drinking and driving, the legal process can be confusing and hard to navigate, especially if this is your first criminal offense. After being arrested, you’ll be taken to the police station for booking. They’ll record your personal information, take fingerprints and mugshots, and potentially have you undergo a chemical test to measure your blood alcohol concentration (BAC).

Following the arrest and investigation, formal charges will be filed against you by the prosecutor. These charges will outline the specific allegations against you, including the offense of underage DWI. 

Then, you’ll be brought before a judge for arraignment. During this court appearance, you’ll be informed of the charges against you and will have the opportunity to enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest. If you plead guilty or no contest, you can be sentenced then and there. If you plead not guilty, a trial is scheduled for a later date.

If the case proceeds to trial, both sides will present evidence and arguments before a judge or jury. The prosecution must be able to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If found guilty, you’ll be sentenced to a punishment, like jail time, fines, or both. If found not guilty, you’ll be free to leave and your charges will be dropped.

If you have been accused of underage drinking in Northwest Louisiana, call criminal defense attorney Michael J. Vergis today. With his experience defending young individuals against a variety of charges, you can rest assured that your case will be in capable hands.

Why You Need an Underage DWI Lawyer

After being arrested for an underage DWI, one of the most important things you can do is contact a local criminal defense lawyer regarding your case. An underage DWI lawyer can help guide you through the legal process, ensuring that your rights are protected at every stage. 

Additionally, a defense attorney will thoroughly review the evidence against you, identifying any weaknesses or procedural errors that could be used to your advantage. They can also negotiate with prosecutors for potential plea deals or alternative sentencing options, striving to minimize the long-term impact on your record and future opportunities. This can be especially beneficial if you have multiple DUI convictions on your record. 

Ultimately, having a competent legal advocate by your side can significantly increase your chances of achieving the best possible outcome in your underage DUI case.

shreveport-bossier city underage DWI defense attorney

Call Northwest Louisiana Underage DUI Defense Attorney Michael J. Vergis Today

If you have been accused of a DUI under 21 in Louisiana, contact Shreveport-Bossier City criminal defense attorney Michael J. Vergis today. With his in-depth knowledge of Louisiana’s DUI laws and his dedication to providing his clients with effective legal representation, Michael J. Vergis is here to advocate for you and your rights during this challenging time.

Call (318) 698-3724 or fill out our online contact form to schedule your free consultation with Attorney Vergis today.