We all know the laws around alcohol consumption. Those under 21 are not free to purchase, possess or consume alcohol whenever they choose. Yet that does not stop underage drinking. One federal report found that about a quarter of all 12- to 20-year-olds in Louisiana admitted to drinking alcohol in the prior month.

With this in mind, it’s important to understand the state’s drunk driving laws. For those who aren’t 21, the legal limit is far lower than the standard 0.08 BAC.

Underage driving under the influence

Here in Louisiana, the state has a law known as UDUI – short for “underage driving under the influence.” Under this law, any driver below the age of 21 can face a UDUI charge if they have a BAC of 0.02 to 0.079. A conviction on a UDUI can lead to:

  • A license suspension
  • A fine
  • Probation
  • Community service requirements
  • Jail time

Repeat offenders will generally receive more severe punishment.

In addition, an underage individual can be charged under standard DUI laws if their BAC is 0.08 or above.

The impact of UDUI

A drunk driving charge is serious for anyone, no matter their age. For those who are not yet 21 – many of them college students, still finding their way in the world – the consequences can be far-reaching. In addition to the standard criminal penalties, students might face discipline from their university, including loss of financial aid, mandatory counseling and a suspension.

This highlights the importance of having a strong defense. There may be ways to minimize the effect of a UDUI on a young person’s life, allowing them to continue the type of growth and maturation we all experience at that age. One indiscretion should not derail everything they’ve worked to accomplish.