In Kansas City and across Missouri, one of the most exciting events in a young person’s life is reaching the age to get a driver license. Driving is a significant responsibility and its legal requirements often collide with the absence of judgment and fundamental mistakes that youngsters tend to make. That may involve a person under 21 using or possessing alcohol and getting behind the wheel. This can cause myriad challenges. Even though it is inadvisable to drink and drive at any time and it is especially concerning if people under the legal age to drink do so, that does not mean they do not have rights. To be fully shielded from any overreach on the part of law enforcement and prosecutors, it is wise to have legal assistance from the start.

How people under 21 are penalized for DUI and alcohol offenses

One law that directly impacts people under 21 is called “Abuse and Lose.” Anyone under 21 who commits an alcohol or drug-related offense related to driving or acquiring alcohol can be subject to a 90-day driver license suspension if it is a first offense. If it is a subsequent offense, that can extend to one year. This includes a traffic offense related to alcohol; an offense related to possessing alcohol while driving; possessing or using drugs; altering, modifying or misrepresenting a driver license; or a second offense for alcohol by a person who is under 18.

For some, there is an option to get a Limited Driving Privilege (LDP) license. This is a special license that allows the person whose license was suspended or revoked and has yet to meet the requirements for reinstatement to be legally able to drive for important reasons or to get to work. The circumstances for which this is allowed are predetermined. Some people cannot get an LDP if they have been convicted of certain violations or there were administrative actions on the license. The underage driver must take part in a Substance Awareness Traffic Offender Program (SATOP) if the loss of license was due to alcohol use, possession of alcohol or altering the license. It takes five years for Abuse and Lose to be removed from the driver’s record. This can have a negative impact on insurance rates and other key aspects of driving.

A comprehensive legal defense can be effective when facing DUI charges

While there might be an immediate impression that a person who was arrested for DUI had some clear evidence against them, the charges can still be fought effectively and those accused can be acquitted. This is true for anyone whether it is a person who is under 21 or someone who is legally allowed to possess and consume alcohol. For example, the traffic stop could have been made under questionable circumstances, the driver may have a viable reason for appearing under the influence, or the investigating officer could have violated established protocol rendering the evidence inadmissible.

Since the penalties related to Abuse and Lose can be so severe and long-lasting, it is wise for those who are confronted with these charges to formulate a defense as soon as possible. Before saying or doing anything that might make the situation worse, an experienced legal professional who understands the ins and outs of DUI defense might be able to help with achieving a favorable outcome.