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How do Florida's DUI laws apply to underage Florida drivers?

It's generally known that law enforcement officers take drunk driving very seriously. However, in Florida, the laws are even more stringent for drivers under the age of 21, the legal age for alcohol consumption. Specifically, younger motorists have an even lower threshold to face certain penalties that drivers that are of a legal age.

According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, police officers have the authority to detain any driver under the age of 21 who is suspected of being under the influence of alcohol. In other words, a person could be detained at the slightest hint of impairment -- even if the driver is sober. Additionally, underage drivers are subjected to tests to determine intoxication

Most people are probably familiar with the 0.08 legal limit, which establishes a threshold to press charges for driving under the influence. For people younger than 21, the legal limit drops to 0.02 percent. In other words, charges could come much more quickly.

The penalty associated with meeting the 0.02 percent limit for blood alcohol concentration is an automatic six-month administrative driver's license suspension. For anyone who needs to get to work or school, this could pose a very serious challenge.

It's also worth noting that underage drivers are also subject to Florida’s implied consent law. This means that refusing a breath test is generally associated with license suspension and other potential consequences.

Even though Florida statutes take a hard line toward underage drivers, legal options are still available. After all, a mistake made at such a young age could lead to years of difficulty. Exploring the possibility of DUI expungement could be helpful in the case of a youthful mistake.

Source: Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, "Florida DUI and Administrative Suspension Laws," accessed June 9, 2014

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