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Under Age 21 DUI Charges in Tampa, FL

When a young person is accused of consuming alcohol or drugs and then driving a vehicle, serious life changing consequences can occur. Florida has enacted a "zero tolerance" policy for any person under the age of twenty-one (21) who is accused of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI).

The attorneys at the Sammis Law Firm are experienced in representing young people charged with DUI throughout Hillsborough County, including Tampa and Plant City, Florida. Call 813-250-0500 to discuss your case involving a juvenile or person under the age of twenty-one (21) with an experienced

Call 813-250-0500 to discuss your case involving a juvenile or person under the age of twenty-one (21) with an experienced Tampa DUI attorney today.


Representing Young People Charged with DUI in Tampa, FL

Attorney Leslie Sammis has more than 14 years experience representing young people charged with drunk driving offenses. Ms. Sammis started her career as an assistant public defender in Florida's Fourth Judicial Circuit where she worked in misdemeanor, felony and juvenile divisions. 

After entering private practice more than eight years ago and then founding the Sammis Law Firm in 2008, Ms. Sammis has continued to represent young people charged with DUI in Tampa FL.

For juveniles or people under the age of 21 charged with drunk driving it is particularly important to contact a DUI lawyer as soon after the arrest as possible so that all avenues of attack are available which can often lead to obtaining the best results.


How Common are Underage DUI Cases?

Crime statistics released by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement show that the number of DUI arrests for persons aged 18 – 20 throughout Hillsborough County has been decreasing steadily since 2005.

  • 2011 - 239
  • 2010 - 290
  • 2009 - 347
  • 2008 - 353
  • 2007 - 446
  • 2006 - 486
  • 2005 - 482

The 10 Day Rule to Fight the Administrative Suspension

After a person under the age of 21 is arrested for DUI, the officer is required to take the young person's Florida driver license and issue a temporary driving permit (assuming the driver is eligible) which is valid for only 10 days after the DUI arrest.

For young people charged with DUI must rely on their parents to help them hire an attorney. Many parents are shocked by their child's conduct and intent to impose their own restrictions on the young person's ability to drive. Parents should keep in mind the importance of fighting the administrative suspension even in those cases in which the young person will not be driving after the arrest. An administrative suspension for DUI comes with a lifetime of consequences including a dramatic increase in insurance premiums. By fighting that administrative suspension, many of those collateral consequences might be avoided.

An administrative suspension for DUI comes with a lifetime of consequences including a dramatic increase in insurance premiums. By fighting that administrative suspension, many of those collateral consequences might be avoided.

The formal review hearing with the Bureau of Administrative Reviews with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) in Hillsborough County is one an important part of the case. All of the witnesses in the case can be required to attend and questioned under oath by the criminal defense attorney.

Florida Statute 322.2616 explains the provisions for the suspension of a driver's license for a persons under 21 years of age. The statute explains the right to review law and provides for the administrative suspension of the driving privileges of a person under the age of 21 who has a blood-alcohol or breath alcohol level of 0.02 or higher and is driving or in actual physical control of a motor vehicle in this state. The statute also provides for the administrative suspension of the driving privilege of such person under the age of 21 who has refused to submit to a test to determine his or her blood-alcohol or breath-alcohol level.

In a DUBAL case involving a driving under the influence case with a DUI breath test reading over .08, the hearing officer must determine the type of instrument used from looking at the Breath Test Result Affidavit. If an Intoxilyzer was used, the hearing officer must verify that there is a current copy of the Agency Inspection report in the file. 

The scope of the formal review hearing in a zero tolerance case shall be limited to the issues listed in Florida Statute 322.2616. The 0.02 Zero Tolerance Citation is typically hand-written on the HSMV 78103 form. If a PBT was used then the hearing officer must verify there is a current copy of the United States Department of Transportation's conforming-product list included.

The hearing officer must make an independent determination in accordance with a preponderance of the evidence as to whether the department should sustain, invalidate or amend the suspension. The hearing officer must render a decision within 7 days of the close of the review hearing, send notice to the person of the hearing officer's decision as to whether sufficient cause exists to sustain, amend, or invalidate the suspension.

The disposition of any related criminal proceeding shall not affect a suspension.

A breath test to determine breath-alcohol level pursuant to Florida Statute 322.2616 may be conducted as authorized in Florida Statute 316.1932 or by a breath-alcohol test device (PBT) listed in the United States Department of Transportation's conforming-product list of evidential breath-measuring devices. The reading from such device is presumed accurate and is admissible in any administrative hearing conducted under the authority of Florida Statute 322.2616.

The results of a blood test obtained during an investigation conducted under Florida Statute 316.1932 or 316.1933 may be used to suspend the driving privilege of a person under Florida Statute 322.2616.

A violation of Florida Statute 322.2616 is neither a traffic infraction nor a criminal offense, nor does being detained pursuant to this statute constitute an arrest. Actions taken pursuant to this statute shall be recorded in the motor vehicle records maintained by DHSMV. Actions taken under this statute do not bar prosecution under Florida Statute 316.193. However, the department may not suspend the person's license under Florida Statute 322.2615 and 322.2616 for the same episode.  


Florida's "Zero tolerance" Legal Limit of .02

For juveniles and young people under the age of 21 charged with DUI, Florida has enacted a zero tolerance legal limit of .02. For DUI cases involving a driver under the age of 21 in Tampa, FL, this legal limit means that even one drink can put the driver over the legal limit.

A young person charged with DUI can face severe sanctions including jail time or incarceration, probation, fines, court costs, community service hours, a driver's license suspension.

The indirect consequences can be even more expensive, including an increase in insurance premiums that can last for more than 3 years after the conviction. Perhaps most importantly, the DUI conviction can limit the young person's future employment and educational opportunities. High school and college students may also face disciplinary actions including be expelled from school.


The Administrative Suspension for Under Aged 21 DUI

Under Section 322.2616 of the Florida Statutes, a DUI officer in Hillsborough County, FL, can request that any juvenile or under aged 21 driver submit to a breath test, urine test, or blood test if the DUI officer has probable cause to believe the driver is impaired by alcohol or drugs (or even if the officer believes that the driver might have a blood alcohol content of a .02).

Simply smelling alcohol on the driver's breath after a DUI stop is often sufficient for probable cause of a juvenile or under age 21 driver.

If the young person declines the DUI officer's request for a chemical test, or if the breath test reading is over .02 then an automatic administrative suspension will occur unless a demand for an administrative suspension is requested to invalidate the suspension. That request for a formal review hearing must be made in writing within the 10 days after the arrest of the under age 21 driver in Tampa, FL.


How Long is the Administrative Suspension for a Person under 21 Accused of DUI?

If no request is made following the DUI arrest or if the driver does not prevail after the formal review hearing to invalidate the administrative suspension, then the following suspension will occur for any person under the age of 21 who took the breath test and blew over the .02 legal limit:

  • First under age 21 DUI Suspension: Six (6) months; or
  • Second or subsequent under age 21 DUI suspension: Twelve (12) months.

If the under age driver refused to take a breath, blood or urine test following the arrest for DUI, then the following administrative suspension will occur if the individual does not prevail at the formal review hearing to invalidate the suspension:

  • First under age 21 DUI Suspension: Twelve (12) months;
  • Second or Subsequent under age 21 DUI Suspension: Eighteen (18) months.

In certain DUI cases, the juvenile or under age 21 driver will take the breath test and blow over .05. With that higher reading comes additional punishments including a requirement that the driver's license suspension remains in effect until the driver completes an substance abuse evaluation and treatment course as part of the DUI School requirement.

During those ten (10) days, the juvenile or driver under 21 should file for a formal review hearing to attack the administrative suspension of the driver's license. At the hearing, the Tampa DUI Juvenile Attorney can subpoena and cross-examine witnesses and explore possible defenses that can be used to fight the charges in the criminal case.


Additional Resources

DUI Enforcement Program for Juveniles and Person's Under the Age of 21 - this website provides statistics on the problem of underaged drinking and driving, juvenile DUI studies, and enforcement options used by law enforcement to address this serious problem of underage drunk and drugged driving.

DUI Driver's License Suspension for Person Under 21 Years of Age - Read Florida Statute Section 322.2616 which provides for the mechanism to suspend the driver license of the juvenile or under age 21 driver accused of DUI in Tampa, Hillsborough County and throughout the State of Florida.

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 Conclusion

Contact an experienced lawyer at the Sammis Law Firm to discuss ways to protect yourself against this serious accusation today. Call 813-250-0500 to speak with one of our the criminal defense attorneys about the DUI case in Tampa or Plant City in Hillsborough County or any of the surrounding area.

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This article was last updated on Friday, October 14, 2016.