In the early morning hours of August 25, a Sunday, Bill Norton was arrested for driving under the influence. Norton, a freshman defensive lineman at the University of Georgia, was booked into Athens-Clarke County Jail just after 4 a.m. on charges of DUI, underage possession of alcohol and failure to maintain lane/improper driving.
Though the penalties associated with DUI are severe, Norton is also facing additional school-related consequences as well. The University of Georgia had made a strong stance against student-athletes operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. According to UGA's Athletic Association Student-Athlete Handbook, a DUI is a “Level II” violation. Being found guilty of a Level II violation is an offense that is equal to testing positive on a drug test. Violators are obligated to complete Georgia's “comprehensive action plan for felony crimes and DUIs.” This includes an automatic suspension from games, placement in alcohol and drug awareness programs, and possibly being subjected to a drug-testing panel. In the past, UGA has suspended football players who are convicted of a DUI for two games.
As a Roswell-Alpharetta DUI Lawyer, I know that the punishments for a DUI are severe – however, I also know that punishments are even harsher for underage drivers. In today's post, I'm going to be talking about what you could be facing if you were charged with an underage DUI in Roswell and Alpharetta.
Unforseen Consequences of an Underage DUI
O.C.G.A. § 40-6-391(k) provides that a person under the age of 21 shall not drive or be in actual physical control of any moving vehicle while the person's alcohol concentration is 0.02 grams or more at any time within three hours after such driving or being in physical control from alcohol consumed before such driving or being in actual physical control ended. As you probably know, the BAC limit for adults is .08, making the restriction of .02 for underage drivers much less.
The punishments of an underage DUI that are imposed by law are comparable to those imposed on adult violators. However, drivers under 21 will face a license suspension term of either six or twelve months, depending on the driver's BAC results. Along with community service, an underage driver also faces a term of imprisonment from anywhere between 24 hours to 12 months.
Other than the punishments ordered by law, drivers under the age of 21 have a lot more to lose than, for example, a retired 65-year-old. As I discussed above, Bill Norton is facing further punishments from the University of Georgia that will likely affect both his academic and athletic careers. Though the scrutiny may be higher because Norton is an athlete, it is not unheard of for a university student to receive extra punishments. An underage DUI can affect your ability to continue your education at your dream school, pursue your desired career, and even lease a particular apartment.
As you can see, the effects of an underage DUI conviction can go considerably farther than the punishments imposed by law. A blemish on your criminal record so early in life could have permanent consequences. However, with that being said, your case is not hopeless. An equipped attorney will be able to work with you to discuss which options will lead to the most favorable outcome in your case. At the Law Offices of Richard S. Lawson, our team of Roswell-Alpharetta DUI Lawyers is committed to making sure you have the best defense possible. DUIs are scary and complicated, especially if you are under 21. We are here to help you navigate the system. Give our office a call today.