Every Florida parent is nervous when their teenager gets his or her driver’s license. Your biggest worry is that they will get into a serious car accident. But you should also be concerned about the possibility of a drunk driving arrest.
Although teenage drunk driving has decreased significantly over the past two decades, it is still a major problem. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 10 percent of teenagers in high school drink and drive. While they might not sound like a lot, the CDC also notes that drivers under the age of 20 “are 17 times more likely to die in a crash when they have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent than when they have not been drinking.”
Florida’s Zero-Tolerance Policies for Teens Who Drive Drunk
That is why Florida, like most states, takes a “zero-tolerance” approach to teens and drunk driving. While a blood-alcohol 0.08 percent is the normal threshold for adult DUI, for drivers under the age of 21–the legal drinking age–it is 0.02 percent. This means that if your teenager drives after having just one drink, he or she can be legally charged with DUI.
Under Florida law, a police officer who has “probable cause” to suspect your teen of drunk driving has the right to request they take a Breathalyzer or other chemical test. If they take the test and fail, their license will be automatically suspended for 6 months. If they refuse the test altogether, the penalty is doubled–a 1-year suspension.
In addition, if your child’s blood-alcohol level is determined to be at least 0.05 percent, he or she must complete a substance abuse program licensed by the state before they can regain their legal driving privileges.
The Steps to Take Following a DUI Arrest
If your child has been arrested, it is important to sit down and discuss what happened in a calm, rational manner. Your child needs to understand that drunk driving has serious consequences. But yelling or belittling your child–i.e., “How could you be so stupid?”–will accomplish nothing. An arrest is a scary experience for anyone, much less a teen who might otherwise have never been in trouble with the law before.
Your first priority should be gathering as much information about the arrest as possible. You need to know who your child was with, where they were drinking, how much they had to drink, and so forth. Once again, remaining calm during this discussion will encourage your teenager to be more forthcoming with details.
After your initial shock and anger subsides, your next steps need to involve getting your child professional help. If you suspect your child has a drinking or substance abuse problem, you should seek out a therapist who specializes in helping teenagers. And of course, you will need an experienced Orlando DUI defense attorney to handle the legal aftermath of the DUI arrest. Call the offices of Moses & Rooth, Attorneys at Law, at 407-377-0150 today if you need immediate legal assistance.