Chicago Underage DUI Lawyer

If you’re under 21, a DUI charge can threaten your entire future. A night out with friends, a single drink — or even just a few sips — and a decision to drive home can result in years of lost driving privileges, a possible jail sentence, and discipline from your school or university if you’re a student.

Maybe you were at a party and didn’t think you would get pulled over on your way home. Maybe you were stopped for some reason unrelated to your drinking. Whatever the case may be, if a police officer asks you to blow into a breathalyzer or even to undergo a roadside sobriety test, you may be charged with an Underage DUI simply for having any trace of alcohol in your body.

However, as overwhelming as a DUI charge may seem, there is hope. A skilled Chicago DUI defense lawyer may be able to help get your charge dismissed or reduced, help you avoid jail time, and possibly keep your driver’s license.

Zero Tolerance Law

Illinois takes a zero tolerance approach to drinking and driving by anyone under 21. It’s illegal for anyone under 21 to consume alcohol in Illinois, which means that it’s also illegal to have any amount of alcohol in your body when you drive. The usual .08 legal limit doesn’t apply when you’re under 21.

Under Illinois law, any driver under 21 who is caught with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) above .00 will lose his or her driver’s license.

  • First Offense — Suspension of driving privileges for 3 months; 6 months if sobriety testing was refused
  • Second Offense — Suspension of driving privileges for 1 year; 2 years if sobriety testing was refused

You may incur additional penalties for refusing a sobriety test, such as a breath, blood, or urine test. An experienced Illinois DUI defense lawyer can explain what you should do when police ask you to take a sobriety test and the possible consequences of a refusal.

It’s important to understand that you also can be charged with a DUI for driving under the influence of drugs. That includes prescription drugs, street drugs such as cocaine or heroin, or marijuana — even if you have medical authorization.

Penalties of an Underage DUI

Young adults charged with a DUI can find themselves in a difficult situation. A driver found guilty of an underage DUI may have to take part in a remedial education program or even go to jail, thereby losing days and hours from school, work, and family. Your driver’s license will be suspended, your insurance rates will likely climb, and you may be burdened with a DUI offense on your record that can’t be expunged in Illinois.

The criminal penalties of an underage DUI offense include:

First Underage DUI

This is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by:

  • Up to 1 year in jail
  • Loss of your driver’s license for at least 2 years
  • Up to $2,500 in fines
  • Suspension of your vehicle registration

Second Underage DUI

This is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by:

  • Up to 1 year in jail
  • Loss of your driver’s license for at least 5 years
  • Mandatory 5 days imprisonment or 240 hours community service
  • Up to $2,500 in fines
  • Suspension of your vehicle registration

Third Underage DUI

This is a Class 4 felony punishable by:

  • 1 to 3 years in prison
  • Loss of your driver’s license for at least 10 years
  • Up to $25,000 in fines
  • Suspension of your vehicle registration

DUI Accident

If you’re involved in a crash that results in great bodily harm as a result of an Underage DUI, you may be charged with a Class 4 felony punishable by:

  • Up to 12 years in prison
  • Up to $25,000 in fines

Campus Consequences For Underage DUI

Additionally, if you’re a student at one of Chicago’s many colleges or universities, you may face disciplinary action from your school for underage drinking and driving — even if it happened off campus. You could face suspension and disruption of your progress toward your degree, even if you don’t go to jail for your DUI.

Depending on the student code of conduct at your university, you likely have a right to a hearing before the college or university takes action against you. This is another circumstance in which a skilled Chicago DUI lawyer may be able to help you avoid some of the unexpected consequences of a DUI charge. A lawyer can represent you during the disciplinary process and try to obtain a resolution that protects your future.

Parental Responsibilities

Under Illinois law, it is illegal for a parent or legal guardian to allow a person under the age of 21 to consume alcohol at their home or on their property, including in vehicles and on boats or other watercraft.

  • Providing alcohol to a person under the age of 21 is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500

Furthermore, a parent or legal guardian can be held responsible not just for allowing the consumption of alcohol by an underage person, but also for failing to prevent its access. They can even face criminal penalties when underage alcohol consumption leads to personal injury or death.

Underage Purchasing and Transporting of Alcohol

Under the Liquor Control Act, any person under 21 who purchases, possesses, receives or consumes alcohol will have his or her driving privileges suspended.

  • First Offense — 6 months suspension of driving privileges
  • Second Offense — 12 months suspension of driving privileges

Any person under 21 who transports alcohol may face:

  • First Offense — 1 year suspension of driving privileges
  • Second Offense — 1 year minimum revocation of driving privileges

Your Defense for Chicago Underage DUI Charge

If you have been charged with an underage DUI in Chicago or the surrounding area, you’ll want to seek the help of an experienced Chicago criminal defense attorney who will listen compassionately to your side of the story and then fight to protect your rights and your future. An underage DUI can be a scary charge to face. But with a great Chicago DUI lawyer at your side, you may soon be able to move on from this stressful and uncertain time.

Chicago underage DUI lawyer Michael O’Meara has more than a decade of DUI defense experience and several years of experience as a Chicago-area prosecutor. He has handled thousands of DUI cases and has a proven track record of helping people accused of DUI to get the best possible result.

O’Meara has demonstrated knowledge and skill as a defense lawyer, as well as a passion for achieving justice in every case he handles. Contact O’Meara Law LLC today at to schedule an appointment to discuss your underage DUI case.