If an officer recently arrested your teenager for driving under the influence of alcohol, you probably have a million thoughts racing through your mind. You are likely cycling through so many different emotions that it is making it difficult to know where you need to start to deal with this. Please know your child is not the first to have this happen to them, and they aren’t likely to be the last.
Underage drinking is a big problem in Alaska. As such, it is something the courts and the Division of Motor Vehicles take very seriously, but knowledge is power, and the more you know about what to expect moving forward, the better off you’ll be helping your child fight this.
Zero tolerance law
Ever since 1996, Alaska has had a Zero Tolerance law in place. According to this law, anyone under the age of 21 — the legal drinking age — found to have even the tiniest bit of alcohol in their system — or who is exhibiting signs of impairment — while operating any motor vehicle can be charged with underage drinking and driving. There is no blood alcohol concentration requirement like there is for adults.
In any DUI case, there are both administrative and criminal consequences. Administrative consequences have to do with your teenager’s driver’s license. Current laws state that, after an arrest and citation for driving under the influence of alcohol, a teen will have their license or permit — if they have either — revoked for a minimum of 30 days. If they have multiple offenses on their record, it could be longer.
Fighting the suspension may be possible. However, if appealing the DMV’s decision to revoke your child’s license fails to produce positive results, they will have to wait out the entire revocation period to have their driving privileges restored.
Criminal consequences of underage drinking also vary. It depends on your child’s age and any other offense they stand accused of or already have on their record. They could spend time in a detention facility, receive probation or court-ordered rehabilitation — among numerous other penalties. Every case is different.
How to help
You can help your child by staying by their side and being a support system. This is just as scary for them as it is for you. You can also help your child by seeking assistance in dealing with the matter. Not all criminal defense attorneys tackle juvenile offenses or underage drinking cases. By having the right person in your child’s corner through this, the better off they’ll be in the end.