Missouri DWI Laws if You are Under 21
If you are under 21 and have been pulled over for a DWI, your case will be handled differently than if you were over the legal drinking age. The legal limit for someone under the age of 21 is not .08, instead it is .02. The lowered legal limit of 0.02 is referred to as zero tolerance, and it reflects the law that it is not legal for people under 21 to drink at all. There is one major benefit to getting a DWI prior to turning 21 if you take the breath test. Any DWI suspension for a person under 21 who takes the breath test is deemed a “Zero Tolerance Suspension,” which is subtly different than the normal “Administrative Alcohol Suspension” for people over 21. The most important difference is that a Zero Tolerance Suspension comes off of a person’s driving record once he or she reaches the age of 21. An Administrative Alcohol Suspension stays on a driving record indefinitely. This is a major benefit to a young person. It is much better to get a DWI a day before your 21st birthday, as opposed to a day after.
Driver’s License Suspensions
Similar to people over 21, if you are under 21 and arrested for a DWI you will be facing a driver’s license suspension. The suspension is termed a Zero Tolerance Suspension if you took the breath test and the result was over a .02. A Zero Tolerance Suspension is a 90 day suspension. If you refused the breath test, then you are facing a one year suspension of your driving privileges, the same as if you were over 21 and refused the breath test. Whether you took the breath test or refused, it is important to hire a DWI lawyer to fight the pending suspension.
Even though the police officer gave you only a 15 day temporary driving permit, an experienced DWI lawyer should be able to delay most driver’s license suspensions until after a full hearing to determine if your license should be suspended at all. There are many technical issues in drunk driving cases that a good attorney can use to fight the case and any driver’s license suspension. It is important to fight any possible suspension of your driver’s license.
Possession by Consumption
A common issue that arises in the St. Louis area when someone under 21 has been arrested for DWI is that the police officer will also issue that person a citation for Minor in Possession of Alcohol. Many times this can be confusing because there was no alcohol in the vehicle. The law in Missouri allows for the prosecution of a Minor in Possession of Alcohol through a theory known as “Possession by Consumption.” Boiled down it means if you are under 21 and you are drunk then you have alcohol in your system and you can be found guilty of a Minor in Possession of Alcohol. Although not all police officers issue this additional citation after a DWI arrest, it has been a growing trend around the St. Louis area recently.
Protect Your Rights
If you or a family member are under 21 and have been arrested for a DWI, it is important to consult with an experienced DWI attorney. There are many legal issues that are different from a DWI for someone who is over 21 that could have affect your case and your driving privileges. Contact The Law Office of Jason A. Korner at 314-409-2659 or click here to fill out an information form to schedule a free consultation.